During a contentious debate at the UN, Russia’s ambassador went beyond cries of “fake news” and accused U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley of “fake diplomacy.”
The charge came from Russia’s foreign minister after Haley accused her Russian counterpart, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, of being unavailable to talk ahead of a key vote on Syria’s chemical weapons program Friday – a U.S.-supported resolution that Russia ultimately vetoed.
“We have read all the reports provided by our New York mission - no such efforts (to reach Nebenzia) were rejected,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian news agency TASS. “It seems, we are witnessing a new phenomenon in international relations, as now, apart from fake news, there is also fake diplomacy.”
Haley had complained that Nebenzia was seemingly avoiding her ahead of the vote, which would have extended an investigation into chemical weapons attacks in war-torn Syria.
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“For some reason, the phones at the Russian Mission are not working,” Haley said. “When I have tried to call Vassily for some reason he is not available.”
On Twitter, the official account of Russia’s UN mission also seemed to mock Haley’s claim with the simple exclamation, “Wrong!”
“Not a single missed call on my phone,” the Twitter account quoted Nebenzia as saying. “And our experts replied as many times as been contacted by the #US counterparts.”
The comments were posted over a photo of Haley on the phone.
Friday’s veto was the 11th time Russia have blocked UN action on chemical weapons use by Moscow’s allies in the Syrian government.
Earlier this year, the U.S. bombed a Syrian air field in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed almost 100 Syrian civilians, which the U.S. blamed on Syrian government forces.
Haley was unhappy about the outcome of the vote, saying it showed Russia “cannot be trusted” to handle the Syrian crisis.
“By using the veto to kill a mechanism in Syria that holds users of chemical weapons accountable, Russia proves they cannot be trusted or credible as we work towards a political solution in Syria,” Haley tweeted.