Russia, China clash with US, UK over attacks on Yemen rebels

UNITED NATIONS — Russia and China on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, accused the United States and Britain of illegally attacking military sites used by Yemen’s Houthi rebels to launch missiles at commercial vessels in the Red Sea, disrupting global shipping.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood and UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward countered that the Houthi attacks are illegal, and their “proportionate and legal action” against the Yemen rebels are being taken in self-defense.

Woodward said the Houthi attacks are “driving up the costs of global shipping, including the costs of food supplies and humanitarian aid in the region.”

But Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky and China’s U.N. envoy Zhang Jun argued that the U.N. Security Council never authorized military action against Yemen.

The clashes came at a council meeting where U.N. special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said promising efforts to restore peace to Yemen have been slowed by rising regional tensions linked to the war in Gaza and “in particular the military escalation in the Red Sea.”

Houthi rebels’ demand

Since November, the Houthi rebels have targeted ships in the Red Sea to demand a cease-fire in Israel’s offensive in Gaza. They have frequently attacked vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperiling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Mideast and Europe.

In recent weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom, backed by other allies, have launched airstrikes targeting Houthi missile arsenals and launch sites for its attacks.

Wood, the U.S. envoy, said American strikes in response to attacks on U.S. naval vessels, “aim to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ ability to continue their reckless attacks against vessels and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden.”

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