Russia rejects French proposal to limit UN veto

Russia on Wednesday dismissed as "populist" a French proposal to limit the use of the veto at the UN Security Council and said it would oppose it.

Russia rejects French proposal to limit UN veto
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. Photo: AFP

France has launched an initiative to persuade the other four Security Council permanent members — Britain, China, Russia and the United States — to refrain from using their veto when action is required to address a mass atrocity.

“We are against it,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters. “We think this is not a workable proposition.”

It was the first time that Russia had come out so clearly in opposition to restricting the use of the veto, which some blame for the lack of effective
measures to end the war in Syria.

The veto power accorded to the P5 dates back to the UN's foundation, but calls for re-thinking its use have mounted as the world body celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

The French proposal gained traction after Russia and China used their veto power last year to block a resolution asking the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes committed in Syria.

Churkin argued that declaring that mass atrocities have occurred could become a political tool, and raised questions about who would be empowered to make that determination.

“We see it as a somewhat populist proposal. If France wants to limit its own veto they are welcome,” he said.

Russia in July blocked two resolutions by resorting to its veto power, one that would have declared the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia to be a genocide and another on setting up a tribunal to try those responsible for the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine.

France's idea has been welcomed by some 70 non-veto wielding member-states at the United Nations. China and the United States however have also expressed reservations.

France will host a meeting on September 30th on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session to discuss its proposal, one year after it launched the idea.

Paris had dispatched former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine on a fact-finding mission in April to discuss the possibility of a letter signed by the P5 that would outline their voluntary commitment to restrict the use of the veto.

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Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.