Russia, China call out ‘unilateral’ sanctions that have no backing of UN Security Council

Members of the UN Security Council hold a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York on Jan 31, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Russia, facing the threat of Western penalties over Ukraine, and China on Monday (Feb 7) spoke out against what they called "unilateral" sanctions imposed by countries without the backing of the United Nations Security Council.

"Only Security Council sanctions are legal," said Russia's Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy. He added that such sanctions are "an important tool for reacting to global challenges".

Without mentioning Ukraine, which the West fears Russia may be planning to invade, Mr Polyanskiy denounced "unilateral" measures that hurt peace efforts and interfere with the sovereignty of nations, such as in Syria, Belarus, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma and Mali.

For his part, China's Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said that "coercive unilateral sanctions were a major source of concern". Mr Zhang added that countries initiating them get hooked up on them like "a drug" and urged them to stop them immediately.

As for sanctions that do receive the support of the UN Security Council, Mr Zhang said they should not be applied "excessively".

Referring to UN sanctions against Beijing's ally North Korea, Mr Zhang said they have "serious humanitarian consequences".

But Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, insisted that North Korea's dire economic situation was the country's own fault.

"The No. 1 barrier to sending humanitarian assistance into the DPRK is the DPRK self-imposed border closures, not international sanctions," Ms Thomas-Greenfield said, using the North's official name of Democratic People's Republic of Korea..

North Korea is living under a self-imposed coronavirus blockade - a far more comprehensive measure than any of the international sanctions it is under for its nuclear programme.

Russia and China have long sought to get to ease UN sanctions on North Korea, mostly recently blocking attempts to sanction a group of North Koreans after a series of missile launches by Pyongyang.

UN sanctions are currently in place against 14 regimes around the world, affecting countries such as Libya, Yemen, Sudan and militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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