United Nations sanctions in Mali will end on Thursday after Russia vetoed a renewal of the regime that targeted anyone violating or obstructing a 2015 peace deal, hindering aid delivery, committing rights abuses or recruiting child soldiers.
Independent UN sanctions monitors reported to the Security Council this month that Mali's troops and its foreign security partners, believed to be Russia's Wagner mercenary group, are using violence against women and other "grave human rights abuses" to spread terror.
Thirteen Security Council members voted in favour of a resolution, drafted by France and the United Arab Emirates, to extend the UN sanctions and independent monitoring for another year. Russia cast a veto, while China abstained from the vote.
Russia then instead proposed extending UN sanctions in Mali for one final year, but immediately ending the independent monitoring now. It was the only country to vote yes, while Japan voted no and the remaining 13 members abstained.
Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council that Russia wanted to eliminate the independent monitoring "to stifle publication of uncomfortable truths about Wagner's actions in Mali, which require attention."
In response, Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told Reuters that was speculation and resembled "paranoia," adding that Russia was "upholding the interests of the affected country - Mali, as the council is supposed to do."
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