Russia faces backlash as veto ends UN’s North Korea sanctions monitoring

SEOUL: Russia faced a mounting backlash on Friday (Mar 29) after using its veto power to effectively end official UN monitoring of sanctions on North Korea amid a probe into alleged arms transfers between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Russia’s UN Security Council veto on Thursday blocked the renewal of the panel of experts tasked with investigating violations of sanctions tied to North Korea’s banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

South Korea’s foreign ministry on Friday slammed the move as an “irresponsible decision”.

Seoul has accused Pyongyang of sending thousands of containers of weapons to Moscow for use in Ukraine, and Russia’s move was “almost comparable to destroying a CCTV to avoid being caught red-handed”, said Hwang Joon-kook, South Korea’s UN ambassador.

The European Union said Moscow’s veto was “an effort to conceal unlawful arms transfers between DPRK and Russia, in the context of the latter’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine”, referring to the North by its official name.

The United States, meanwhile, called the vote a “self-interested effort to bury the panel’s reporting on its own collusion” with North Korea.

“Russia’s actions today have cynically undermined international peace and security, all to advance the corrupt bargain that Moscow has struck with the DPRK,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said after the Thursday vote.

The panel’s mandate expires at the end of April.

North Korea has been under mounting sanctions since 2006, put in place by the UN Security Council in response to its nuclear program.

Since 2019, Russia and China have tried to persuade the Security Council to ease the sanctions, which have no expiration date.

The council has long been divided on the issue.

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