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Russia vetoes cease-fire monitors

Associated Press / June 16, 2009
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UNITED NATIONS - Russia exercised its veto in the UN Security Council and brought an end yesterday to the nearly 16-year-old observer mission monitoring a cease-fire between Georgia and its breakaway Abkhazia region.

The veto toppled a Western plan to extend the life of the UN mission for another year, or even two more weeks, to work out a compromise. The vote was 10-1, with four abstentions: China, Vietnam, Libya, and Uganda.

About 130 military observers and more than a dozen police now must leave. Both the name, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, and references to Georgia's territorial sovereignty were sticking points.

"It is understandable," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday, "that in the new political and legal conditions most of the names and terms previously used in the old documents are inapplicable."

The UN's secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who had recommended keeping the mission, said it would cease operations despite his "regrets."

Ambassador Alexander Lomaia of Georgia said his nation would now "cooperate very closely with our friends," including the European Union and its monitors in Georgia.