Russia seeks end to U.N.’s Mali sanctions, monitoring

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia is pushing the United Nations Security Council to immediately end independent monitoring of targeted U.N. sanctions on Mali and completely abolish its sanctions regime on the West African country in August 2024.

Russia put forward the draft resolution to rival a text from France and the United Arab Emirates that would extend the sanctions regime and independent monitoring for another year, but also express a readiness to review the measures.

The 15-member Security Council is due to vote on both draft resolutions later on Wednesday. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France to pass.

The move by Moscow comes after the council voted in June to end a decade-long peacekeeping mission in Mali when the military junta abruptly asked the 13,000-strong force to leave – a move the United States said was engineered by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which has about 1,000 fighters in the country.

Mali’s junta, which seized power in coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Wagner in 2021. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash last week and Russian President Vladimir Putin then ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state.

The Security Council established a Mali sanctions regime in 2017, allowing it to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on anyone who violates or obstructs a 2015 peace deal, hinders aid delivery, commits rights abuses or recruits child soldiers.

There are currently eight people subjected to the U.N. sanctions measures.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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