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Syria resolution defeated at UN. Does that free up US to act on its own?

For the third time since the crisis began, Russia and China teamed up to defeat a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. The US may now pursue 'action outside of the council.'

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Members of the United Nations Security Council listen to Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at United Nations headquarters Thursday, July 19. Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution to impose non-military sanctions on Syria.

Kathy Willens/AP

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Russia’s veto Thursday of a Security Council resolution aimed at quelling the chaotic violence in Syria revealed a paralyzed and bitterly divided international community. But the failure of the resolution may also have the effect of pushing frustrated outside powers, including the United States, to find other ways to intervene in the Syrian crisis.

Russia was joined by China in vetoing a British-sponsored and US-backed resolution, prompting Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyall Grant, to condemn the two naysayers in unusually undiplomatic terms and accuse them of putting national interests over the international good.

Calling the veto “appalling,” Ambassador Grant said the vote revealed Russia and China “failing in their responsibilities as members of the Security Council,” adding that “they have chosen to put national interests ahead of the lives of Syrians.”

It was the third time in the course of the 16-month crisis that Russia and China teamed up to veto Security Council action on Syria. The action cemented a growing consensus among diplomats and regional analysts that dueling world powers will leave Syria to its own devices – and to those of other outside players.

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