Russia warns New Zealand after UN comments

Syrians protest Russian airstrikes
Syrians protesting Russian airstrikes (Reuters)

The Russian Embassy in New Zealand says we were "absolutely incorrect" to blame Russia for the Syrian crisis.

Their statement to Newshub comes after New Zealand's United Nations representative, Gerard van Bohemen, blasted Russia for refusing to let the UN get onto the ground in Aleppo.

"I was often asked by my colleagues 'what will be your Rwanda moment?' I think it's probably arrived," Mr van Bohemen said.

"Then, as now, there were credible reports coming in of atrocities being committed. Then, as now, there was someone at the table - a party to the conflict that had their own view."

Mr van Bohemen said the failure of the UN to act was because "a Permanent Member [Russia] has used the veto to prevent Council action to address a serious humanitarian crisis."

However, the Russian Embassy's press secretary Artur Zakaev warns the speech may damage our relations with Russia.

"It is difficult to say what harm can cause the comments of Mr. Gerard van Bohemen to the Russia-New Zealand bilateral relations, but what is for sure that such shots don't serve to its promotion," he says.

He rejects accusations that Russia has contributed to the Syrian conflict.

"From our point of view it is absolutely incorrect for the New Zealand Representative to the UN to say that Russia prevents action on the Syrian conflict. Our country is making every effort to suppress the terrorist threat in Syria and search for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis."

Russia vetoed the December 5 Draft Resolution because it was "submitted for the voting with rude violation of its normal procedure", and would have given "terrorists in East Aleppo" time to "regroup and build up their forces and arms, as they have done in the past."

"It would have slowed down the liberation of East Aleppo from the terrorists and prolonged the suffering of civilians," Mr Zakaev argues.

But Mr van Bohemen says Russia's actions are leading to further bloodshed.

"The tactics being used in eastern Aleppo go against basic humanity. Such short-term tactics do nothing to counter terrorism," he told the UN.

"They fuel radicalisation and rather than hastening the end of the war, they make peace more distant."

The Russian Embassy disagrees with his analysis, and believes their solution to the conflict is correct.

"The destruction of the terrorists is the first part of the task that the international community should implement," Mr Zakaev says.

"And it should be stressed that we are deeply concerned with some officials, media, and NGOs that have made baseless allegations against the Russian Air Force in Syria."

Ultimately, Mr Zakaev has a message for New Zealand.

"We hope our partners would form their position basing on proved facts and common sense instead of emotions or politicised view on current international situation."