Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution that would have imposed sanctions against the Syrian regime. The situation in Syria has escalated following a deadly attack on key Syrian officials on Wednesday.
China and Russia on Thursday vetoed a United Nations' resolution that would have imposed sanctions against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Both German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and British Prime Minister David Cameron had called on Russia to abandon its opposition to sanctions at the UN Security Council.
Westerwelle told German broadcaster ARD on Thursday: "We must convince Russia that its strategic interests are endangered by the fact that it is holding a protective hand over the Syrian regime."
The foreign minister also deplored Chinese opposition to sanctions, but said it was nonethess right to work "intensively" on a resolution.
Cameron had also directly called on Russia to back sanctions.
"The message to President Putin... and the message to all those on the UN Security Council - it is time for the UN Security Council to pass clear and tough messages about sanctions," Cameron said.
UN sanctions vote
Their remarks came ahead of the UN Security Council vote on the Western-backed resolution calling for sanctions on Syria.
Russia and China were expected to veto the resolution, which would have imposed Chapter 7 sanctions on the Syrian regime if it failed to keep to a peace plan put forward by UN-Arab league special envoy Kofi Annan.
Chapter 7 of the UN Charter authorizes the council to take military and non-military action to "restore international peace and security."
The veto comes as the Syrian capital, Damascus, is seeing ongoing bloody clashes between government forces and rebels calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.
The situation was exacerbated by a rebel bomb attack on Wednesday that killed three top Syrian officials, including Defense Minister General Daoud Rajha and Assef Shawkat, President Assad's brother-in-law. General Hassan Turkmani, the head of the crisis cell, also died in the attack.
Major General Robert Mood, who is heading a UN observer mission in Syria, said he had expressed his condemnation of the attack to the Syrian government, and painted a somber picture of the state of violence in the country.
"It pains me to say, but we are not on the track for peace in Syria, and the escalations we have witnessed in Damascus over the past few days are a testimony to that," Mood said in a statement to reporters.
tj,slk /msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)