By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that would have condemned the Srebrenica massacre as a genocide to mark the 20th anniversary of the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
China, Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela abstained and the remaining 10 members of the council voted in favor. The vote was delayed a day as Britain and the United States tried to persuade Russia not to veto the resolution, which would have also condemned denial of the 1995 massacre as a genocide.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin deemed the British-drafted resolution "not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated." Russia had instead proposed condemning "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community."
A United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has ruled the Srebrenica massacre was a genocide.
On July 11, 1995, toward the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb forces swept into the eastern Srebrenica enclave, a U.N.-designated "safe haven." They executed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the days that followed, dumping their bodies into pits.
"Our vote against ... will not however mean that we are deaf to the sufferings of the victims of Srebrenica and other areas of Bosnia Herzegovina," Churkin said before the vote, adding that such a resolution would lead to greater regional tension.
Serbia acknowledges that a "grave crime" took place and adopted a declaration condemning the massacre in 2010 as it sought closer ties with the West, but stopped short of describing it as genocide.
Serbia warned on Tuesday that the resolution would only widen ethnic divides in neighboring Bosnia.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)