Rival draft resolutions by Russia and the US to set up a new expert body to probe chemical weapons attacks in Syria have both failed to pass at the United Nations Security Council.
The votes on Tuesday came amid an escalating war of words between Washington and Moscow and a looming threat of Western military action following an alleged gas attack on the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, Al Jazeera news network reported.
Russia first vetoed a US-drafted text to create a mechanism that would have the authority to assign blame for chemical attacks in the war-torn country.
Twelve council members voted in favor, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting against, and China abstained.
In order to pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent members: Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States.
"The United States is again trying to mislead the international community and is taking yet one more step toward confrontation," said Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.
"It is clear that the provocation step has nothing to do with a desire to investigate what happened," he noted.
"If you made a decision to carry out an illegal military endeavor, we hope that you will come to your senses. You will be responsible for it yourselves,” he added.
"Why do you need the attribution mechanism, if you’ve already named the perpetrators before any investigation?” he further noted.
An alleged chemical weapons attack hit the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta region in the suburban area near Damascus late on Saturday, reportedly killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 1,000 others.
The Western countries blamed the incident on the Syrian government. Damascus rejected the accusations as “chemical fabrications,” which were made by the terrorists themselves in a bid to halt pro-government forces’ advances.
Damascus said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which has dominant presence in Douma, was repeating the accusations “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”
This was the 12th time that Russia has used its veto power at the Security council to block action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Later, a rival Russian bid to create a new inquiry also failed after the proposed resolution only received six votes in favor.
Seven members voted against and two abstained.
The Russian draft would have required investigators to report to the Security Council, which could then ascertain responsibility.
After the measures failed, Nebenzia appealed to the US to "refrain" from any action it might be planning to take against Syria.
"The threats you are proffering that you're stating vis-a-vis Syria should make us seriously worried, all of us, because we could find ourselves on the threshold of some very sad and serious events," he said to US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
"I would once again ask you, once again beseech you, to refrain from the plans that you’re currently developing for Syria," he added.