Russia joined thirteen other Security Council members last night as the UN body voted 14-0 to impose an arms embargo on Yugoslavia. China abstained from the vote. The UN measure is intended to promote a peaceful settlement of the recent crisis in Serbia’s troubled Kosovo province. The resolution addresses several issues, among them a call on authorities in Belgrade and the leadership of Kosovar Albanians to begin a meaningful dialogue without preconditions. The resolution backs "an enhanced status for Kosovo which would include a substantially greater degree of autonomy and meaningful self-administration." In order to foster peace, the resolution prevents the sale or supply to Yugoslavia — including Kosovo — of arms and all types of related materials. (Reuter, AP, March 31) Last night’s vote was a follow-up to a call by the six-nation Contact Group — which includes the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Italy and Germany — for the adoption of an arms embargo by the end of March. The group met to discuss the Kosovo situation in London on March 9 and in Bonn on March 25.
Since the March 9 meeting, Moscow has flip-flopped on whether it would back the arms embargo. Russian diplomats have also made clear their distaste for the imposition of any sanctions on Belgrade. Russia sees itself as a traditional ally of Serbia and has generally backed the authorities in Belgrade on Kosovo as well as on other issues. With regard to the embargo, Moscow had argued along with China that the current crisis over Kosovo is an internal matter, to be resolved internally. Russia had also denied that the situation in Kosovo constitutes a "threat to international peace and security in the region." Moscow was reportedly persuaded to back the resolution only after language making that last point was struck from the document. Russian diplomats also claimed credit for several other small changes in the wording of the draft resolution. Acting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — a vigorous backer of the embargo — reportedly conferred several times over the 24-hour period that preceded last night’s vote. (Reuter, March 31)
Lawmakers Had Urged Veto of UN Embargo.