The United States, having earlier in the week mustered the nine votes needed to pass the sanctions, stalled on bringing the resolution to a vote until it became absolutely clear that Russia was determined to stop it. Once the Russians announced on Friday that they would exercise their veto, the Chinese, often leery of taking a lone stand on delicate human rights issues, followed suit.Oh, yea; wouldn't want to make China look bad with the Olympics right around the corner.
Among other issues, China’s reluctance to criticize the human rights records of African governments it trades with has come under international criticism as the Olympics in Beijing draw near.
“The U-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and disturbing,” (Zalmay Khalilzad, American ambassador to the United Nations) said in remarks to the Security Council, saying it raised questions about Russia’s reliability as a partner. The United States proposed an arms embargo, the appointment of a United Nations mediator, and travel and financial restrictions against Mr. Mugabe and 13 top military and government officials. The Council has moved away from broad trade sanctions in recent years because they were considered too harmful to the civilian population.
Even though the United States knew at that point that it would lose, it decided to proceed with the vote anyway, to force the Russians and eventually the Chinese to publicly take a stand in support of Mr. Mugabe and the violence promulgated by his supporters to steal the election.