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4 Jun, 2009 01:25

Hot debates: Russia and the Security Council

Russia is summing up the results of its May presidency at the UN Security Council. But what happens next?

Through a video-link media conference, the Russian Ambassador to the UN talked about what’s key when it comes to unresolved international issues.

North Korea

North Korea’s nuclear activity is at the top of the agenda. When an underground explosion was recently triggered, the Security Council swiftly condemned what the country did with a presidential statement.

With two existing resolutions on North Korea already in force but clearly not being followed, another one is being worked on right now. It will impose additional economic sanctions against the Republic.

“We are making sure that the financial restrictions that will be necessary to restrict the ability of North Korea to carry out nuclear programs would not lead to making regular economic activity and cooperation difficult. Imposing an economic embargo of sorts on North Korea will not be included in this resolution,” Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN said.

Moreover, Russia insists that the key to the crisis is for North Korea to return to negotiations, since a proper and lasting solution can only be found through diplomacy.

Some analysts are pointing fingers at the U.S. as to why negotiations haven't worked so far. Leonid Ivashov, former joint chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces (1996-2001), is among them:

“The five countries should not impose any sanctions on North Korea. In this case, North Korea could wind up its nuclear program. It was the US that violated the agreements first. If the US does not want any nuclear disputes, they'd better fulfill their own obligations,” he noted.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Another issue is hot on the agenda. A deadline for the UN mandate on the Georgian-Abkhazian border is fast approaching.

The Security Council has to renew its commitments or make different arrangements for the region. Russia says the mandate has to be completely new – from its name to its substance, adjusting to the new realities in the region.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have become sovereign states following the August war sparked by Georgia. Almost a year has gone by, but Western states still refuse to recognize this fact.

"Recently, we've come across a position by our western partners that indicates that they continue to live in the political past and don't want to fully realize the goals of today – when it comes to the activities of the UN mission and the steps that need to be taken by the international community to stabilize the situation in the region,” Churkin pointed out.

With these clashes of understanding and interest, the Security Council has just over ten days to make up its mind before the UN mandate expires.

June will be a hot month not only on the streets of New York, but also inside UN headquarters. Stabilizing the situation around the Abkhazian-Georgian border by updating the beliefs of the West, and attempts to tame nuclear North Korea, all this is to be continually discussed in the Security Council in the weeks to come.