Russia vetoed a United Nations draft resolution Monday that would have linked Iran with the transfer of Iranian-made arms to Houthi militias in Yemen.
The UK-proposed draft, which was strongly backed by the United States and its allies, was blocked by Russia despite being supported by 11 of the 15 members of the Security Council.
Two countries, China and Kazakhstan, abstained from voting, while Bolivia also voted against the draft.
Only the five permanent council members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – maintain veto power.
The failure of the draft was followed by the unanimous adoption of a Russian-drafted measure that extended an arms embargo against Yemen, but made no specific reference to Iran.
The situation in Yemen has been labeled by the United Nations as “the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.” Almost three years of civil war and sectarian violence has left much of the country in ruins, with tens of thousands dead and millions more faced with acute food shortages and a lack of basic medical supplies.
A Saudi-led military coalition has been engaged in military action, including airstrikes, against Houthi-held positions for more than two years. In November last year, the coalition forced the closure of the country’s ports, stopping shipments of food and medicine.
The conflict is widely viewed as proxy war between regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Iran providing support for the Houthi rebels. Other non-state actors – including ISIS and al Qaeda – are also party to the conflict.
In a statement released Monday evening, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia of protecting the “terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran.”
“In spite of a mountain of credible, independent evidence showing Iran violated the Yemen arms embargo, resulting in a series of attacks on civilian targets, Russia prevented accountability and endangered the entire region,” said Haley.
Iran has previously denied allegations that it has provided missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen. In November, a ballistic missile fired from Yemen came close to hitting the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
The missile, which was intercepted by the Saudi military over the city’s main international airport, was labeled by Saudi officials as “a clear act of aggression” by Iran.
A report by a UN panel of experts in January appeared to back the Saudi claims, concluding that Iran failed to block ballistic missile supplies from being used by Houthi rebels. The report did not identify the supplier of the weaponry, but said missile debris inspected by UN experts was of Iranian origin.
Defending Russia’s position, the country’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia, was quoted in state-run RT ahead the vote Monday as saying that Moscow “cannot concur with uncorroborated conclusions and evidence which requires verification and discussions within the Sanctions Committee.”
CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.