Russia will veto a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at allowing UN officials to monitor evacuations from the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said his country could not accept the French-drafted resolution due to be voted on in New York on Sunday (18 December).
He made the announcement to reporters as a number of buses for the evacuations were torched near Idlib by armed militants from Ahrar al-Sham (an Islamist coalition funded by Turkey and Saudi Arabia) and al-Nusra Front (formerly known as al-Qaeda in Syria).
"We cannot support it," Churkin said, reported Reuters. "We cannot allow it to pass because this is a disaster.
"But there could be another thing which could be adopted today by the Security Council which would accomplish the same goals."
Churkin did not clarify what the further resolution would be.
According to documents seen by TASS, a Russian news agency, France's resolution states that citizens who are evacuated from Aleppo should be able to independently choose their own destination.
Previous evacuation arrangements – agreed by Russia, Turkey and Syria – have bussed civilians from Aleppo to Idlib province. In return, militants would allow safe passage of evacuees from insurgent-held areas such as Al Fu'ah and Kafraya to government-held areas of Aleppo.
However, the most recent agreement has been halted following the destruction of five of the buses by militants.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who was facilitating the evacuations alongside the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), called on all parties to negotiate and agree a deal that guarantees safe passage for civilians.
In a statement issued before the most recent collapse, Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC in Syria, said: "People are expecting us to continue the evacuation. It's important that the parties on the ground do their utmost to end this limbo."
She added: "We're ready to resume facilitating the evacuation according to our humanitarian mandate. But we now expect all the parties on the ground to provide us with solid guarantees in order to keep the operation going.
"They're the ones who have to protect the people and provide safe passage. We cannot abandon these people."