Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Tuesday that threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn't stop its military crackdown on civilians who oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Nine of the 15 council members, including the United States, voted in favor the resolution while four nations — India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon – abstained from voting.

If it had been passed, it would have been the first legally binding resolution adopted by the Security Council since Assad's military began to use soldiers and tanks against protesters, AP reported. The U.N. estimates more than 2,700 civilians have been killed since mid-March.

European nations, the main supporters of the resolution, tried to avoid the veto by diluting the language on sanctions three times. They even took out the word sanctions, but in vain.

The defeat of the resolution shows the divisions in the council over the issue of addressing the violence in Syria.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said the resolution would have been an intervention sending the wrong message to the international community. I understand that my European colleagues are upset, having not obtained a resolution which they were trying to obtain, Churkin was quoted as saying by news agencies.

Reacting the defeat of the resolution, Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari said, “The unprecedented, aggressive language resorted (to) by certain ambassadors against my country, against the political leaders of my country, facilitated my task today. This aggressive discourse reveals the prejudice in certain Western capitals against my country's political leadership.

It was the third double veto by Russia and China since January 2007, when they blocked a resolution calling on Myanmar to release all political prisoners, initiate talks and end military attacks and human rights abuses. In July 2008, they vetoed sanctions against Zimbabwe.