NEW YORK (CN) – Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Vladimir Sofronkov, condemned President Donald Trump and his decision to launch a missile strike on Syria before the U.N. Security Council on Friday, then proceeded to rebuke U.S. allies Great Britain and France for their support of the action.
“All of this is taking place because Washington, London and Paris talked about this in closed conference and had this great idea of overthrowing the sovereign government of Syria. This was clearly a show of non-diplomatic action,” Safronkov said.
He also warned against any future action by the U.S. or its allies in the region.
“Once again, I warn, don’t even try to get into fights in the Arab world. Nothing will work and nothing will be achieved … all Arab countries recall your colonial hypocrisy,” he said.
The ambassador called for an impartial investigation into the source of the chemicals killed 80 people earlier this week, most of them women and children, but even then turned his request into a critique of the United States.
The U.S., he said, is “in no way interested in an impartial investigation by an international authority to find out exactly what took place.”
“You are afraid of such investigations,” Safronkov said.
But Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., was unbowed by the ambassador’s criticism, resolutely stating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly attacked his own citizens, and that the chemical weapons attack was just the last example of his handiwork.
“Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it and he thought so because he knew Russia would have his back,” Haley said.
“We will not stand by,” Haley said. “It is in our vital national interest to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons. Our military destroyed the airfield from where the chemical took place. We were fully justified in doing so. The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered and could no longer be met with empty words. It was time to say, enough, and not only say it, but act.”
Haley said while the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical attack, the country was, in her estimation, not the only guilty party.
“The Iranian government has significant responsibility. It has propped up [Assad] for years and continues to. The Russian government also bears responsibility there. Every time [Assad] has crossed the lines of decency, Russia has stood beside him,” she said.
Assuring the committee that the “further strengthening of the Assad regime would not be tolerated,” Haley also took aim at Russia.
“Russia is supposed to be a guarantor of the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. Russia is supposed to have removed all of the chemical weapons from Syria. Obviously, that has not happened and innocent civilians have been murdered,” she said.
According to Haley, Russia’s either knowingly allowed the chemicals t remain in the country or was “incompetent” in removing them.
Or, she said, it could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools, “telling them that there are no chemical weapons and all the while stockpiling them.”
Bashar Ja’afari , Syria’s permanent U.N. representative, called the missile strike a “barbaric flagrant act of aggression” against a Syrian Air Force base.
“The U.S. leads a purported movement against [the Islamic State and the Levant] but its real objective is to weaken the Syrian army and its allies when confronting terrorist groups. In this regard, we see this airstrike as illegal against the Syrian Army,” Ja’afari said.
He then recalled a meeting of security council nearly two decades ago, as the United States prepared to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
At that 2003 meeting, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the Bush administration’s rationale for war in Iraq. The speech set out to detail Iraq’s weapons program, but as the intelligence would later confirm, that program was nonexistent. Powell himself has since called his remarks a “blot” on his record.
“These colonialists have a renewed appetite to renew their lies and stories spread by the U.S. and U.K. 14 years ago in this very hall when they justified the occupation of Iraq, using a major lie of WMDs,” Ja’afari said. “It has now come full circle in a regrettable scenario.”
“Today, the U.S. policy, in its attempt to justify its aggression against Syria is using fabricated information provided by terrorists,” he said. “This aggression incontrovertibly proves Syria has been correct that successive American administrations will not change their policies to target states and make people kneel to their will and spread hegemony around the world.”
Ja’afari continued: “The people of the free world have no doubt that the successive U.S., U.K. and French administrations for decades have not cared for democracy, freedom or human rights. These are just pretexts to wage war and occupy other states, divide them and control their wealth and resources.”
Ja’afari also criticized past U.S. interventionism in Latin America and southeast Asia but not before ripping into the council.
“What is truly disgusting is that those governments who supported the terrorist extremist ideology since its creation, is today orchestrating terrorism and investing in it without any care for the lives of people, even their own people, when terrorism reaches their own threshold because of these wrong and hypocritical policies,” he said.
After more heated comments from the security council members in the room, Safronkov offered something of an olive branch to the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
“Ms. Haley, who just assumed her new office does have a genuine opportunity to establish a healthy, collective work environment in the security council. But this will not be done if you give the national point of view [and try to pass it off as] the absolute truth,” he said.