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Russia shuts down UN Watchdog monitoring North Korea sanctions

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Russia shuts down UN Watchdog monitoring North Korea sanctions

Russia shuts down UN Watchdog monitoring North Korea sanctions

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  • 13 out of 14 member states supported the panel’s renewal, with China abstaining.
  •  The veto by Russia prompted condemnation from the US, UK, South Korea, and other Western allies.
  • South Korea’s representative criticized Russia’s “blind self-centeredness” and dismissed the panel’s accusations.
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Russia shut down a panel of UN experts that had been monitoring sanctions against North Korea for years. Last week, the panel announced it was investigating reports indicating Russia’s violation of rules by purchasing North Korean weapons, such as ballistic missiles, for use in Ukraine. Since 2006, the UN Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear weapons program.

The Security Council vote on Thursday resulted in the disbandment of the expert group established to monitor violations of the restrictions, despite the ongoing enforcement of those measures. Russia, exercising its veto power as a permanent member, blocked the renewal, while 13 of the other 14 member states present supported it.

China, North Korea’s closest ally, chose to abstain. The veto by Russia prompted strong condemnation from the US, UK, South Korea, and other Western allies. This action follows a year marked by high-profile public meetings between leaders of Moscow and Pyongyang.

For the first time in 14 years, Russia blocked the renewal of the panel, which has been annually approved by the UN Security Council. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asserted on social media that Russia’s veto essentially admitted guilt, implying its use of North Korean weapons in the conflict.

The US, UK, and France all accused Russia in the Council, stating that it silenced the watchdog because it had started to report on Moscow’s breaches of the rules, particularly the procurement of weapons from North Korea for deployment in Ukraine’s battlegrounds.

Meanwhile, at the UN, South Korea’s representative criticized Russia’s “blind self-centeredness,” asserting that Russia had no justification for disbanding the guardians of the sanctions regime. Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook likened the action to destroying a CCTV camera to avoid being caught red-handed. Russia’s representative at the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, has consistently denied the use of North Korean weapons and again dismissed the accusations on Thursday. He also argued that the panel of experts provided no added value.

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“The panel has continued to focus on trivial matters that are not commensurate with the problems facing the peninsula,” said Mr Nebenzia, who also added that sanctions had imposed a “heavy burden” on the North Korean people.

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