UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia said Tuesday it opposes new sanctions sought by the United States against a South Sudan army chief and a former army general who is now a rebel commander for continuing to fuel conflict in the world's newest nation.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the foreign ministers of Sudan and South Sudan, who recently held talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, signed a joint communique that included opposition to sanctions in the conflict-torn south.
"We think we need to take that into account," Churkin told reporters. "The United States, very often they just say 'sanctions, sanctions, sanctions' and in some cases it severely aggravates the situation."
The U.N. Security Council had set a 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMIT) deadline Tuesday for members to raise objections and diplomats said Angola joined Russia in blocking a travel ban and asset freeze on South Sudanese Gen. Paul Malong and ex-general Johnson Olony, who has joined forces with rebel leader Riek Machar.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the objection process is private.
Fighting broke out in oil-rich South Sudan in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his ex-vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of trying to oust him. That sparked ethnic attacks and fighting that was supposed to end after Kiir reluctantly followed Machar and signed a peace deal on Aug. 26, but fighting has continued.
The council imposed sanctions on six generals — three from each side — on July 1 for continuing the conflict which has killed thousands, created a humanitarian crisis and displaced over two million people.
The United States, an early and vocal supporter of South Sudan's independence from neighboring Sudan, has tried to keep up pressure on the feuding parties, first to sign the peace agreement and now to implement it.