9 February 2012

Sudan: Russia Opposes More Sanctions On Khartoum

Khartoum — Moscow does not support the introduction of additional sanctions against Khartoum, a Russian official has declared after his country and China have been accused of flouting a UN arms embargo on Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The London-based right group Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday released a report saying that Russia and China have been selling "significant quantities" of arms to the Sudanese government which in turn used them to commit human rights violations in Darfur despite the fact that the region has been under an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) since 2004.

As the UN Security Council is set to consider the embargo next week, AI report called for extending the current embargo to include all sales of arms to Sudan as a whole.

But the spokesman of Russia's foreign ministry, Alexander Lukashevich, said on Thursday that his country fails to see why more sanctions need to be applied, stressing the importance of making the most of the existing embargo.

"At the moment there is no need for introducing additional sanctions against Sudan," Lukashevich said, adding that it was important to make the most effective use of the existing sanctions-related mechanisms.

Sudan, which enjoys good relations with Moscow and Beijing, described the accusations and calls contained in the AI report as the harbingers of an international conspiracy to impose a no-fly zone over the country and pave the way for the entry of foreign aid groups into the country's troubled regions.

The Russian diplomat said that Moscow exports arms to Sudan within the realm of international law and under safeguards that they are not used in Darfur. Lukashevich further said that groups fighting the Sudanese governments in Darfur were also acquiring arms smuggled from other countries.

Darfur region plunged since February 2003 in an episode of conflict between the government and rebel groups accusing it of marginalizing the region. The UN says more than 300,000 people died and 2.7 million lost their home since the conflict erupted.

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