New York: US Ambassador Samantha Power shrugged off President Vladimir Putin`s claim that Russia might support a UN resolution authorising military force against Syria, saying Moscow has held the Security Council "hostage" on the Syria crisis and Washington does not expect that to change.
Power lashed into Russia in her most extensive comments yet on the Syria crisis since starting her job as ambassador to the United Nations last month. Her criticism came as President Barack Obama was in Russia for an economic summit of the G20 nations.
"Russia continues to hold the Council hostage and shirks its international responsibilities," Power said.
Putin said that Russia "doesn`t exclude" backing military action against Syria if it is proven that President Bashar Assad`s regime was behind an August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Power said Russia has consistently used its veto power to block Security Council action against Syria since the civil war broke out two years ago, or blocked the council from issuing statements by consensus. She said she sees no reason to believe that pattern will change.
"I have seen Putin`s comments," Power told reporters after a Security Council meeting. "There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, with our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic."
"And indeed, we have seen nothing in President Putin`s comments that suggest that there is an available path forward at the Security Council," she added.
Russia`s UN Mission declined to comment on Power`s remarks.
The Obama administration says it is certain Assad`s government was responsible for attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, but Russia has said it is not convinced by the evidence the US has cited.
Power accused Moscow of exploiting the Security Council`s voting system, which lets five major nations hold veto power Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain.
"The system has protected the prerogatives of Russia, the patron of a regime that would brazenly stage the world`s largest chemical weapons attack in a quarter century, when chemical weapons inspectors sent by the United Nations were just across town," Power said.