Russia vetoes extension of UN mission in Georgia

Amb. Vitaly I. Churkin of the Russian Federation (right), vetoes extension of the Georgian peacekeeping mandate

15 June 2009 – The Security Council failed today to extend the presence of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) after Russia vetoed a technical roll-over for the nearly 16-year-old operation.

China, Libya, Uganda and Viet Nam abstained on the vote on the text, which would have extended the Mission – entrusted with overseeing the ceasefire accord between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in the country’s north-western region – for two more weeks, until 30 June. Its mandate expires at midnight Monday.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will instruct his Special Representative to take all measures required to cease UNOMIG’s operations, effective 16 June, and consult with his advisors on the immediate next steps, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General regrets that the Security Council has been unable to reach agreement on the basis of a package of practical and realistic proposals he submitted to the Security Council aimed at contributing to a stabilization of the situation on the ground,” the statement said.

Explaining Russia’s negative vote, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin noted that UNOMIG’s mandate had already been rolled over twice for four-month periods, in October 2008 and more recently in February 2009.

“There’s no sense in extending it since it’s built on old realities,” said Mr. Churkin, adding that the current reality calls for a new security regime on the ground.

“Developing a new UN mission mandate would have allowed us to quickly put in place practical cooperation of all interested parties to strengthen security and to restore trust… However, our Western partners did not accept this approach.”

The draft resolution put forward in the Council was “clearly unacceptable,” he stated.

In his recent report to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the Mission has contributed to the overall security of the local population, while cautioning that an agreement on a revised security regime is needed for lasting stability.

UNOMIG’s area of responsibility in Abkhazia consists of a security zone, where no military presence is permitted; a restricted weapons zone, where no heavy weapons can be introduced; and the Kodori Valley.

It has no jurisdiction in nearby South Ossetia, the scene of fighting last August which pitted Georgia against separatists and their Russian allies.

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