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21 Jul, 2008 18:21

Moscow hits back in row with UK over Zimbabwe sanctions

Moscow is accusing Britain of distorting the facts on Russia's stance over Zimbabwe. It follows criticism by the UK’s Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, which described Russia’s decision to block sanctions as “incomprehensible”. He also said

But Moscow has hit back by reiterating that it saw no need for sanctions against Zimbabwe. Russia's Foreign Ministry said that it agreed at G8 to measures against those responsible for violence in Zimbabwe.

But it argues that did not mean it was obliged to support U.S. plans for sanctions at the UN Security Council.

In a the statement, the Ministry said: “We acted in accordance with the decision of the latest African Union’s summit that bluntly called on all countries to refrain from any actions that could impact the tone of dialogue between Zimbabwean sides.”

“Our top priorities are ensuring stability in southern Africa and strictly following international law – the UN Charter in the first place – when resolving the situation in the country.”

It also blamed David Milliband for “ignoring what the Russian side actually said in Tokyo”. The British Minister was referring to “some mythical violations of agreements” according to the Ministry.

The comments mark the latest twist in a row stemming from July 12, when Russia and China blocked the U.S. sponsored draft resolution.

The move sparked heavy criticism from the U.S. and Britain. The American envoy to the UN questioned Russia’s reliability as a G8 member while Milliband said the veto would not be understood by the people of Zimbabwe.

On Monday, Zimbabwe's President Mugabe and the opposition leader agreed to start talks to resolve the political crisis the country has been in since last month's presidential election.