As Western and Arab nations prepared to push for a UN Security Council resolution calling for better access to aid in war-torn Syria, Russia said on Wednesday that now was not the right time for such a move.
The United Nations says some 9.3 million Syrians, nearly half the population, need help and UN aid chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly expressed frustration that violence and red tape have slowed the delivery of humanitarian assistance to a trickle.
"We're against moving to a resolution now on the Security Council. That's as clear as I can put it," Russia's UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters. "It's not a good time to have any resolution discussed in the Security Council."
Western members of the 15-member Security Council have been considering a resolution on aid for almost a year. After months of talks, the council eventually made a non-binding statement on Oct. 2 urging more access to aid.
But that statement produced only a little administrative progress, such as visas for aid workers and clearance for convoys. No action has been taken on big issues such as the demilitarization of schools and hospitals, and access to besieged and hard-to-reach communities.
After a first round of peace talks in Geneva last week failed to reach a deal on aid to some 2,500 Syrians trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs, Western and Arab nations said they planned to press for a legally binding resolution.
Western council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a draft resolution could be circulated among council members as early as this week.
However, Churkin made Russia's position clear on Wednesday, saying, "we believe it's a wrong move."