UNITED NATIONS — Russia
vetoed a British-sponsored draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemning the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 as a “crime of genocide,” marking a new low in relations among world powers.
The Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, called the language of the measure “confrontational” and “politically motivated,” and urged the Council not to call it to a vote. Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the beginning of a three-day slaughter of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
The resolution would “doom this region to tension,” Mr. Churkin warned. Russia shares close political ties with Serbia.
Peter Wilson, the British envoy, accused Russia of denying facts established by a special international tribunal. “It is denial, and not this draft resolution, that will cause division,” Mr. Wilson said. “Denial is the final insult to the victims.”
, Russia and the United States
had sought to come to a consensus on the text in recent days. The massacre was the worst atrocity in Europe
since World War II. Both the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice have ruled that it meets the legal definition of genocide.
The American ambassador, Samantha Power, said the backers of the draft resolution had sought to address Russia’s concerns, but Russia balked at the mention of genocide. “This is a veto of a well-established fact,” Ms. Power said.
The measure condemned “in the strongest terms the crime of genocide at Srebrenica” even as it expressed “sympathy and solidarity with the victims on all sides of the conflict.”
China warned against calling the measure to a vote, asserting that doing so would damage the unity of the Council. China
, along with Angola
, abstained. Russia cast the sole no vote. Ten countries voted in favor.
Srebrenica, a city of refuge created by the United Nations during the Balkans war, became a metaphor for the failure of the world body — and indeed many Western powers — to prevent the massacre.
At the time, Mr. Churkin led the Russian efforts to secure a peace deal. Ms. Power was a journalist covering the war.