What this Russian veto means is
- either USA and West never bothered to keep intact Russian geopolitical interests in post-Assad Syria by preserving its last Naval base with access to Mediterranean sea
- or mechanics offered there by USA would not have been believable / trustworthy for Russia.
It is true that it will not be just the case of Russian access to Mediterranean power projection, but in general retaining the last 'client state' in the Arab World. As of now Russia clearly does not see any dependable partner in Syria than the discredited and genocide driving Bashar Assad. May be Russia does not see that much of a possibility Assad losing to regime opponents. Only when it sees that the tide becomes irreversible and it risks to lose all of its influence unless it joins the new incoming rulers of Syria; it will abandon the Assad ship.
This whole thing is such a throw back to the Cold War era that it sounds and feels surreal in this century. Russia does not have a strong democratic political system where genocide in Syria can have any electoral consequences. Putin is still cruising to his victory in March to become President second time. His opposition cannot take advantage of 'blood on hands' which Putin caused with this veto. On the other hand if someone tries to open this topic in the Russian Election, very likely Putin would hammer that opposition by portraying how someone is 'giving away Russian assets' to bring down the country; the classic nationalism card.
I could not understand Chinese rationale behind their veto. I fail to see any reasoning here apart from simple foreign policy incompetence and failure to lead / imaginative on part of China. May be abstaining on this vote - when it was clear that Russia would veto - might have been more profitable to China. But of course, for such a high profile vote these veto holding powers generally do not go alone. Single Russian Veto would have exposed Russia very much and the case seems to be a clear tacit understanding between China & Russia to protect Russia even though China has much less skin in this game.
To average Western and American voter, China seems slowly moving in the axis of Iran-Syria in Middle East. That is a very dangerous game for China to engage into. The world where revived Cold War with West and it's old adversary Russia joined by another equally potent rivalry between China & America is extremely explosive. May be as Obama's America starts pushing more into Pacific, China's policy in Middle East seems to raise a raucous with USA. All this does not look any encouraging and signals possibly renewed geopolitical tensions unless these powers handle these situations better.