Mali UN Sanctions Lifted After Russia’s Controversial Veto

United Nations sanctions in Mali are set to come to an end on Thursday, August 31, following Russia’s veto of a renewal for the regime. This regime had been targeting individuals involved in violations or obstruction of the 2015 peace deal, hindering aid delivery, engaging in human rights abuses, and recruiting child soldiers.

Mali UN Sanctions Lifted After Russia's Controversial Veto
Mali UN Sanctions Lifted After Russia’s Controversial Veto

Independent monitors from the UN had consistently reported to the UN Security Council regarding the use of violence against women and other severe human rights abuses by Mali’s troops and its foreign security partners, suspected to be Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, in order to instill fear. Previously, the UN Security Council, including Russia as a member, had voted to extend UN sanctions on Mali and continue independent monitoring.

However, on Thursday, a resolution put forth by France and the United Arab Emirates to extend both the UN sanctions and independent monitoring for another year was met with a Russian veto, while China abstained from the vote.

Russia proposed an alternative, suggesting a one-year extension of UN sanctions in Mali but an immediate end to independent monitoring. This proposal received a sole “yes” vote from Russia, a “no” vote from Japan, and abstentions from the remaining 13 members.

Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood voiced concerns, stating that Russia’s intention appeared to be suppressing the dissemination of uncomfortable truths about Wagner’s actions in Mali, which warrant attention.

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy dismissed these allegations as speculation and likened them to paranoia, asserting that Russia was acting in the interests of Mali, as the council is meant to do.

The US had also accused Wagner, with approximately 1,000 fighters in Mali, of orchestrating a sudden request by the junta for the withdrawal of a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, which has been in operation for a decade and is scheduled to conclude by December.

Mali’s military junta, which had seized power through coups in 2020 and 2021, partnered with Wagner in 2021 to combat an Islamist insurgency.

Following the recent plane crash of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in Russia, President Vladimir Putin ordered Wagner fighters to pledge allegiance to the Russian state.

Earlier this month, Mali’s military junta had written to the Security Council, requesting the lifting of sanctions.

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