Global Policy Forum

Russia Says Only UN Can

Reuters / Russia Today
September 22, 1999

Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov made clear on Tuesday that only the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, where Moscow has a veto, could authorize military intervention on humanitarian grounds.

"Unlawful means can only undermine rightful ends," he told the U.N. General Assembly in an apparent reference to Yugoslavia where Russia opposed NATO's bombing of Serbia.

"In general we should take an extremely careful approach to coercive measures and, what is more, not allow them to turn into a repressive mechanism to influence states and peoples regarded by some not to their liking," Ivanov said.

Ivanov spoke shortly after U.S. President Bill Clinton justified NATO's action over Kosovo and a day after Secretary-General Kofi Annan chastised the Security Council for not enforcing its decisions and being paralyzed in face of humanitarian disasters, whether in Kosovo earlier this year or during the massacres in Rwanda in 1994. Russia, along with China, held off approving any military action during the Kosovo crisis, although Moscow played a leading role in reaching a peace deal. The United States, on the other hand, has held back in authorizing U.N. peacekeeping operations, particularly in Africa during the Rwanda crisis. But Ivanov said the Security Council needed to be reformed and made more representative, without abrogating the veto rights of its five permanent members.

Ivanov, whose country is undergoing numerous separatist challenges in the northern Caucuses, said denounced "militant nationalism, separatism, terrorism and extremism" as a common challenge claiming countless victims around the world. "The international community and, first of all, the United Nations should decisively clamp down on any manifestations of separatism and strictly and consistently defend the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the national borders," he said. "It is necessary to completely eradicate instances of encouragement and support for separatist forces from without," Ivanov added.

Without mentioning Iraq by name, Ivanov also said sanctions in the Security Council should be guided by clear criteria to impose and to lift them. The council, he said, "should not allow any free interpretation of adopted decision, much less to allow their use by anyone for selfish political or economic ends." Russia has been negotiating with the United States, France, Britain and China, on a resolution to get U.N. inspectors back into Baghdad in exchange for some easing of nine-year-old U.N. trade sanctions. Turning to Russian nationals in the Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia, Ivanov denounced "arbitrary action of authorities" that deprived thousands of people of their citizenship and the right to use their native language. "Civilized integration rather than latent assimilation - this is the way out of the prevailing humanitarian situation in these countries," he said.

Ivanov said he hoped Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, would "make her contribution" to efforts under way by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and other groups. (C)1999 Copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters Limited.

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