Speaking to a group of Josef Korbel School students and faculty in the Sié Chéou-Kang Center of International Security and Diplomacy, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 2006, defended the decision to veto intervention in Syria. Emphasizing Russia’s important relationship with Europe and America, Ambassador Churkin addressed major issues spanning from NATO’s expansion to dealing with Iran.
“The Security Council is not about overthrowing regimes,” said Churkin. As Russia’s representative on the Security Council, he said he continues to push for the international community and Syria to uphold Kofi Anan’s Six Point plan, which focuses on political dialogue and a negotiated solution.
According to Churkin, “We should be supporting parties in crisis, not trying to dictate the outcome from the outside.”
Churkin outlined Russia’s diplomatic strategy, which he called “network diplomacy,” meaning a move beyond regional alliances, and spoke of thematic relationships such as trade and a political block of BRICS countries. The BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and now South Africa, have been said to be flexing political muscle through the permanent members Russia and China.
Yet reforms in the Security Council are most likely a long time coming. Hinging on the issue of expansion of permanent members, all veto powers agree in keeping their veto rights.
“They should not tamper with our veto powers. If the veto goes away, we might as well move the UN to D.C.” said Churkin.
Audience members asked questions from how to deal with North Korea to Russia’s position on Kosovo, but the issue of NATO enlargement over the past decade brought resolute statements.
“We drew the line in the sand. Further NATO movement East will not be tolerated,” said Churkin, citing the friction over bases in Romania and Bulgaria in recent years.
The event was sponsored by the newly founded Center for the Study of Europe and the World (CSEW).
- Sarah Crozier, MA Candidate, International Development
Josef Korbel School of International Studies