UN sanctions in Mali to end after Russia blocks renewal

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 U.N. 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 favor of a resolution, drafted by France and the United Arab Emirates, to extend the U.N. sanctions and independent monitoring for another year.

Russia cast a veto, while China abstained from the vote.

Russia then instead proposed extending U.N. 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.

“We are convinced that the adoption by the Council in this, which flouts Boubacar’s (Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar) desire to get rid of the sanctions regime, will just undermine the sanctions regime and it will not help the Malian peace process. It would just further antagonize the parties,” said Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya.

The current annual mandate for the U.N. sanctions regime and independent monitoring will expire on Thursday. Nebenzia also made clear that Russia would not discuss the issue any further after the two votes on Wednesday.