Britain Now on Course for New Bust-Up with Russia; POLITICS

The Birmingham Post (England), July 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

Britain Now on Course for New Bust-Up with Russia; POLITICS


Byline: By Joe Churcher and Gavin Cordon

Britain was on course for a fresh diplomatic showdown with Russia last night after Moscow branded proposed sanctions against Zimbabwe "excessive".

On the final day of the G8 summit in Japan, Gordon Brown said he hoped United Nations sanctions could be in place within days after Russia signed up to a statement denouncing Robert Mugabe's regime as "illegitimate".

But in his closing press conference, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev insisted "no concrete decisions" had been taken on further international action against Harare. Russia's ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin went further, suggesting the measures in the draft Security Council resolution drawn up by the United States and Britain were outside the UN Charter.

"I personally believe that some elements of the draft are quite excessive, in fact incongruous, and clearly in conflict with the notion of sovereignty of a state member of the United Nations so some of these things have to be looked at very carefully," he told the BBC.

The emergence of Russia's opposition is a bitter blow for Mr Brown who believed he had secured G8 backing for the new measures, including international travel bans on Mr Mugabe and 13 other leading members of the regime as well the freezing of their assets.

At his closing press conference, he said the G8 leaders - as well as those from other countries attending in Japan - had been united in their condemnation of the violence meted out to the opposition in last's month's presidential election.

"The mood is outrage against what is happening in Zimbabwe, disgust at the behaviour of the Zimbabwe regime, an acceptance by all of them that this is an illegitimate regime that has got blood on its hands," he said.

"We don't expect to get every country to support us on this, but we believe that we can gain sufficient support for this important resolution to be passed in the next few days. …

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