The failure of the UN’s most powerful body to agree on an extension came two days before Sunday’s expiration of its one-year mandate for deliveries through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
Russia has vetoed a UN resolution on extending cross-border aid to Syria from Türkiye with the current mandate set to expire on Sunday.
The resolution drafted by Norway and Ireland sought a one-year extension for humanitarian aid deliveries from Türkiye’s Cilvegozu border crossing to Bab al-Hawa in Syria’s northwest.
The resolution received 13 votes in favour, while China abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France to be adopted.
“We need to reach a solution in the immediate term, a solution which renews the mandate for cross-border aid. There is simply no time to waste. The Syrian people are counting on us,” Ireland's UN representative Geraldine Byrne Nason said after the vote.
US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield termed it “a dark, dark day” for the Security Council.
“It is unfathomable that one security council member, Russia, put their own political interests above the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people,” she said.
The 15-member council also voted on a proposal by Russia to approve the UN operation for six months.
It failed with only Russia and China voting in favour, while the United States, Britain and France voted against it and the remaining 10 council members abstained.
Thomas-Greenfield said renewing the cross border mechanism for six months fails to give aid workers the assurances needed to sufficiently meet needs on the ground, resulting in needless suffering.
"This page of history has finally been turned and cannot be turned back," Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told the council after the second vote.
The council is now expected to continue negotiations to see if an agreement can still be reached.
According to the UN, more than 2.4 million Syrians benefit from humanitarian aid delivered through Bab al-Hawa every month.
Last year, more than 9,500 trucks carrying food aid, medicine and goods entered Syria through the crossing.
The UN has been aiding millions of Syrians through multiple border crossings since 2014, but from 2020, the council reduced the entry points to just one, leaving Bab al-Hawa as the only option.