Both Russia and China had stuck to their ally Bashar al-Assad in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian regime's deadly crackdown.
The move that came amidst reports that troops had killed 260 civilians overnight in the city of Homs, sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from the West and the Arab governments, who were pushing for the resolution. Defending their action, Moscow and Beijing said the draft of the resolution needed more work.
"The authors of the draft Syria resolution, unfortunately, did not want to undertake an extra effort and come to a consensus... The result is known," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on Twitter in his comments on the issue. Earlier, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin had justified the veto, saying the proposed resolution "sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties".
His Chinese counterpart Li Baodong said pushing through such "a vote when parties are still seriously divided ... will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council, or help resolve the issue."
In a commentary, China's official news agency Xinhua said the veto was aimed at preventing more "turbulence and fatalities" in the violence-hit state.
It said the veto "was aimed at further seeking peaceful settlement of the chronic Syrian crisis."
It is to be noted that this is the second time the two countries have vetoed resolutions on Syria where rights groups cried massacre at the hands of Syrian authorities.
Opposition groups say over 6,000 have now been killed in Opposition groups say over 6,000 have now been killed in the country since the anti-Assad uprising began last March.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 260 civilians, including many women and children, were killed as troops shelled Homs "randomly" during the night.
The "Assad regime committed one of the most horrific massacres since the beginning of the uprising in Syria," it said. Rights groups and other parties to the fresh UNSC resolution were harsh in criticism of the veto that prevented any UN action in Syria.
In harsh criticism, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told the council that Russia and China "remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant".
Human Rights Watch termed the veto a "betrayal" of the Syrian people and an "incendiary" move. "Vetoes by Russia and China are not only a slap in the face of the Arab League, they are also a betrayal of the Syrian people," said Philippe Bolopion, UN director at Human Rights Watch.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep regret, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the veto would encourage further crackdowns by the Syrian regime. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russia and China had "sided with the Syrian regime and its brutal suppression" in their own national interests. London-based rights group Amnesty International called the veto a "shockingly callous betrayal" of the Syrian people.
In a separate message on Twitter, Rice wrote: "Disgusted that Russia and China prevented the UN Security Council from fulfilling its sole purpose."