Syria deal seen as important moment for US-Russia ties

In this June 15, 2021 photo, people walk next to the US and Russian flags on the pont du Mont-Blanc. (SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS – The Russian and US ambassadors at the United Nations on Friday saw the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution on Syria as an important moment for their countries' relations.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on the re-authorization of the cross-border aid mechanism for Syrians after Russia and the United States reached compromise in last-minute talks.

Today, we are witnessing a historical moment. … We expect that this kind of day would become a turning point that not only Syria will win from this, but the Middle Eastern region as a whole, and the world as a whole.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's UN ambassador

By Thursday, the Security Council was set to vote on two competing draft resolutions: one tabled by Ireland and Norway, the co-penholders of the issue, and the other tabled by Russia.

The Ireland-Norway text seeks a 12-month extension of the cross-border mechanism, while the Russian text would allow an extension of only six months.

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Russia and the United States were able to bridge the differences in the two drafts and jointly tabled the final text together with Ireland and Norway.

This is the first time since 2016 that the Security Council acted unanimously on the Syria humanitarian file.

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described the deal as a historical moment.

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia waves to reporters after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to extend the authorization of the cross-border aid mechanism for Syrians for 12 months, at the UN headquarters in New York, on July 9, 2021. (XIE E/XINHUA)

"Today, we are witnessing a historical moment. For the first time, Russia and the United States not only managed to find an agreement, but to present a joint text, which was supported by all our colleagues in the council. We expect that this kind of day would become a turning point that not only Syria will win from this, but the Middle Eastern region as a whole, and the world as a whole," he told the Security Council after the vote.

I certainly see it as an important moment in our relationship. And it shows that what we can do with the Russians if we work with them diplomatically on common goals. 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN

"We are grateful for this to all members of the council. We're grateful to our American colleagues who were working in the spirit of the agreements achieved during the Geneva summit between Presidents (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden," he said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, said Friday's deal was an important moment in her country's relationship with Moscow.

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"I certainly see it as an important moment in our relationship. And it shows that what we can do with the Russians if we work with them diplomatically on common goals. And this was a common goal that we were able to come to an agreement on. And I look forward to looking for other opportunities to work with the Russians on issues of common interest to our two governments," she told reporters after the adoption of the Syria resolution.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to reporters after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to extend the authorization of the cross-border aid mechanism for Syrians for 12 months, at the UN headquarters in New York, on July 9, 2021. (XIE E/XINHUA)

The United Nations welcomed the statements from the Russian and US ambassadors.

Asked for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' comment on this issue, Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman of Guterres, said: "There is nothing that we'd like more than close, positive and productive cooperation between members of the Security Council, between the permanent members of the Security Council, and between the United States and the Russian Federation."