Russia vetoes UN resolution to extend Mali sanctions

Russia has vetoed a UN resolution to extend sanctions against the West African country of Mali at the Security Council.

The UNSC has been imposing sanctions, including asset freezes, on some individuals in Mali who are suspected of violating or obstructing a peace deal since 2017. But the country's interim government, which took power in 2020 after a coup, has demanded the lifting of the sanctions.

The Russian private military company Wagner Group is believed to have increased its presence in Mali. Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood criticized Russia, saying the move is aimed at stifling the publication of "uncomfortable truths about Wagner's actions in Mali."

UNSC members voted on Wednesday on a resolution to extend the sanctions regime for another year. It got 13 "yes" votes in the 15-member council but was vetoed by Russia.

Russia then proposed extending the UN sanctions in Mali for one year instead, and immediately abolishing a panel of experts monitoring them. But the resolution was rejected as it failed to get enough support.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the sanctions have not helped to solve Mali's problems.

The sanctions against Mali will be terminated unless another resolution is adopted on Thursday. The UN plans to stop its peacekeeping activities in the country by the end of this year.