As the United Nations deadline passed Monday for Sudan to disarm
Arab militiamen accused of genocide in Darfur, analysts say that
Russia, which now holds the presidency of the Security Council, is
not likely to lead the UN charge for sanctions against Khartoum.
Under pressure from Washington and some other Western capitals,
Council members voted a month ago to consider punishing Sudan if it
did not disarm and prosecute the janjaweed militia, which is
allegedly responsible for a campaign in western Sudan that has left
at least 30,000 dead and forced 1.4 million from their homes.
But Russia - which has used modest weapons sales, an oil deal,
and closer ties with Sudan to bolster a broader presence in African
markets - is not expected to focus on Khartoum's abuses.
And Russia is not alone: China, another permanent Council member,
has closer ties with Sudan, and deep reservations about sanctions.
Their opposition, along with that of Pakistan and Algeria, meant
that the explicit threat of sanctions was removed from the first
The pattern was similar with Saddam Hussein's Iraq with which
Moscow had far more lucrative arms and oil deals at stake. For
Russia and China, it may all boil down to the pocketbook.
"China is deeply involved in Sudan, in oil export and
transportation, and extraction," says Andrei Maslov, editor of Af-
Ro: Russia-Africa Business Journal. "Russian companies are even
subcontractors to the Chinese. The pipeline that will be built by
Russians will be built for Chinese money, not Sudanese."
That's not the only deal. In late July - five months ahead of
schedule and as the Council debate on Sudan sanctions raged - Moscow
announced the final delivery of 12 MiG-29 jet fighters to Khartoum,
to conclude a 2001 deal.
"Sudan is potentially a buyer in the future, and we don't have
many buyers around," says Dmitri Trenin, a military expert at the
Carnegie Moscow Center. "[Russia] is against sanctions primarily
because those sanctions make some people happy, and they hurt
The UN is expected to hear a report on Sudan's efforts to rein in
the janjaweed Tuesday, and debate sanctions Thursday.
Few expect Russia will get in the way of a sanctions vote against
Sudan, if one comes up and has widespread support. China, which is
the leading foreign investor in Sudan, with an annual trade value of
roughly $1 billion, according to the Xinhua New Agency, has much
more to lose.
For Moscow, the use of UN sanctions is broader than Sudan, which
is why it doesn't want to lead this diplomatic fight. "This isn't
really about Sudan, which is not a significant customer," says Pavel
Baev, a Russia military analyst at the International Peace Research
Institute in Oslo. "Russia is taking a line against sanctions . …