The U.S. envoy to the UN Security Council has expressed outrage at Russia and China for blocking a draft resolution on Syrian sanctions.
"The people of Syria, who seek nothing more than the opportunity to achieve their universal human rights and to see their aspirations for freedom and liberty achieved, have been slapped in the face by several members of this Security Council today," Susan Rice said following Tuesday evening's vote.
Despite three months of debates, the 15-nation UN Security Council failed to reach a compromise on the draft.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday expressed his disappointment over the veto, saying the move would be seen "as a decision to side with a brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria".
"I am of course disappointed by Russia and China's decision to veto the UNSCR,” he said.
"This will be seen in the region as a decision to side with a brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria, and will be a bitter blow to all those Syrians who have implored the international community to take a stand."
The resolution proposed by the U.K., France, Germany and Portugal was "carefully drafted and entirely reasonable," he went on, and those who blocked it would have the "horrific abuses" of the Syrian regime on their conscience.
Russia, which sells arms to Syria, and China applied their veto-wielding power to block the Western blueprint late on Tuesday.
"Today's vote clearly shows ... a conflict of political positions," Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said, adding the draft resolution one-sidedly accused the Syrian authorities of being to blame for the current crisis.
Russia has pushed for non-intervention and for international mediation in negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the government. Although the Syrian authorities have offered a plan of reforms to the opposition, the latter has denied any dialogue.
Churkin, however, said that Russia was not defending the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad and condemned violence in suppressing the protests. He added, though, that there were other parties taking advantage of the crisis in Syria.
"Armed gangs supplied with smuggled weapons and other ammunition are seizing control over towns, killing and slaying law-enforcement officers and civilians, and burning government offices," Churkin said.
The Syrian government has used force to crush opposition protests, which followed a wave of uprisings in other Arab countries in spring. The UN says some 2,700 people have died since the start of the protests in March.
The United States, Canada and the EU have already imposed unilateral sanctions on Syria and have called for Assad to step down.