Russia Reluctant to Commit to UN Assistance Operations to Syria

UMMATIMES - US President Joe Biden did not get a commitment from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to renew the United Nations (UN) cross-border aid operation to Syria. The two countries' leaders met on Wednesday (16/6).

"There is no commitment, but we made it clear that it is very important for us if there is to be further cooperation in Syria," the US official said after a meeting between Biden and Putin in Geneva.

The US and several other members of the 15-member Security Council are pushing to expand cross-border operations. Earlier, the head of UN aid, Mark Lowcock, said the operation was helping the lives of some three million Syrians in the north of the country. However, Russia questioned the importance of long-term operations.

The UNSC first authorized cross-border aid operations by the UN and non-governmental organizations into Syria in 2014 at four points. Last year, there was a reduction in access to a crossing point from Turkey due to opposition from Russia and China.

The mandate for cross-border operations ended on July 10. A resolution to extend the Security Council approval requires nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the five permanent members, namely Russia, China, the US, France and the UK.

"For countless Syrians, this is a life or death vote," US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told US lawmakers earlier on Wednesday.

In the last decade, the UN Security Council has been divided over the appropriate way to deal with Syria. Russia has vetoed 16 resolutions related to Syria and was backed by China for many of those votes.