Russia dubbed as a "publicity stunt" a planned UN Security Council vote on Thursday on a resolution to refer Syria's civil war to the International Criminal Court, warning that the move would be detrimental to attempts to broker peace.
Moscow has long been against referring the Syrian conflict to The Hague-based ICC for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin emphatically reinforced Moscow's position on Wednesday.
When asked if Russia planned to veto the French-drafted resolution, Churkin told reporters: "Yes we do."
"The fact that the resolution is going to a vote we regard as simply a publicity stunt, which will have a detrimental effect unfortunately on our joint efforts in trying to resolve politically the crisis in Syria," Churkin said.
Despite Russia's opposition, a senior UN Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the planned vote as "the right thing to do." He said: "The time has come when the situation should be referred to ICC."
It will be Russia's fourth veto of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. Moscow has shielded its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government from strong action by the 15-member council during the conflict.