Colum Lynch describes the terms of the draft U.N. Syria resolution:
A draft U.N. resolution that was endorsed this afternoon by the U.N.’s five big powers — and which is expected to be approved by full the Security Council in a matter of days — threatens no automatic penalties against Syria if it fails to comply with its obligations or even if it launches a fresh chemical attack.
I doubt that anyone is surprised by this outcome. It was obvious that Russia proposed the chemical weapons deal as a way to halt U.S. military action, and Russia made it clear it has no intention of supporting a resolution that authorizes the use of force against Syria. Any resolution on Syria that Russia could accept would have to omit any provision for punishing Syria, because Russia’s main concern here is to deny the U.S. a new justification for intervention. If penalties for Syria had been included, Russia would have vetoed the resolution, and we can be reasonably sure that Russia would veto one in the future if it contains punitive measures.
The language of the draft resolution is being treated as proof that Russia now “dominates” the Security Council. That sounds very dramatic, but I’m not sure that it makes much sense. Russia previously vetoed every Syria resolution no matter how “toothless” and unenforceable it happened to be, and now it appears to be willing to support one. That represents a modest shift in Russia’s position away from its previous pattern of vetoing everything that the other members proposed. I suppose one can call this Russian “dominance” of the Council if one wants, but it is the same “dominance” that every permanent member can have when it is willing to use its veto to shield a client from U.N. penalties.