December 22, 2010 11:48
Russia distanced itself from China in discussions about North Korea at the UN Security Council on Sunday, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Tuesday. "In the process of adopting the statement, Russia clearly stated its intention to join international condemnation," Kim said. "I do not believe Russia is acting in concert with China."
It was Russia that called the emergency UNSC meeting on Sunday to discuss South Korea's artillery drill on Yeonpyeong Island. But it apparently agreed to most of the demands made by the U.S. and the U.K., which stressed that the statement must focus on North Korea's provocations. "Russia supported calls to condemn North Korea's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island. The statement was not adopted because of opposition from China," Kim said.
In a draft statement, Russia pointed out the risks posed by South Korea's artillery drills but did not mention North Korea's attack. But when a revised statement by the U.S. and the U.K. condemning the North for attacking the South gained support, Russia offered a similarly worded revision, although that did not directly mention North Korea or the island.
"Russia proposed a slightly different version in order to bring China on board," Kim explained. The permanent members generally agreed to the revision proposed by Russia, but China adamantly refused to accept the word "condemn" in the statement. As a result, the UNSC was unable to adopt a joint statement.
After North Korea's shelling of the island, Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack and criticized the North immediately following a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun. And Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called North Korea's uranium enrichment program a violation of UNSC resolutions.
But when Russia convened the emergency meeting just ahead of South Korea's annual military exercise on Yeonpyeong Island, the move was interpreted as signaling a shift in Moscow's stance. Unlike Russia, China has merely urged both Koreas to exercise "restraint," while refusing to even mention the words "Yeonpyeong Island." China also refused to condemn North Korea after it sank the Navy corvette Cheonan.
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