Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN draft resolution on Syria. It was the second time since October 2011 that the two permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) had used a double veto to block a UNSC draft resolution on the Middle Eastern nation.
Analysts here said the failure of the draft resolution to clear the UNSC reveals a serious division among the 15 members of the council, which has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the world at large.
The diplomatic battle surrounding the situation in Syria would persist, they said.
The vote drew worldwide attention as Russia and major Western nations, led by the United States, Britain and France, differed sharply over the situation in Syria.
Nearly two hours of closed-door consultations at the UNSC delayed the council vote, originally scheduled for 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), until around 11:50 a.m. (1650 GMT) due to deep divisions among council members.
The draft urged efforts to "facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system ... including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition."
It also said the Security Council "fully supports" the Jan. 22 Arab League plan demanding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down -- one of the major stumbling blocks in pre-vote consultations.
Despite a series of minor revisions to the draft made by its co-sponsors, including some Arab states and the United States, Britain and France, the bulk of the position remained intact.
Observers said that if the draft were adopted, the likely scenario would be a "regime change" in Syria.
Russia had expressed its serious concern over the draft text. During the council consultations, Russia warned against meddling in the internal affairs of Syria,and worked hard to avoid a replay of the Libya model, in which the NATO military helped topple Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
Hours before the council entered into the scheduled meeting Saturday morning, with Western powers pushing for a vote on the draft, Russia circulated an amended draft resolution which, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, "aims to fix two basic problems."
There were "(first,) the imposition of conditions on dialogue, and second, measures must be taken to influence not only the government but also armed groups," Lavrov said at a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference, adding that these two issues are "of crucial importance" from Russia's point of view.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, however, described those amendments as "unacceptable" as she headed into Saturday's session. And the co-sponsors of the resolution did not take into account these concerns.
After the vote, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin justified the veto by saying the proposed resolution "did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs in Syria and has sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties."
For his part, Li Baodong, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, regretted that the Russian amendments were ignored.
"Like many council members, China maintains that, under the current circumstances, to put undue emphasis on pressing the Syrian government, prejudge the result of the dialogue or impose any solution will not help resolve the Syrian issue, but instead may further complicate the situation," Li said.