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Russian veto brings an end to the UN panel that monitors North Korea nuclear sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A veto Thursday by Russia ended monitoring of U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program, prompting Western accusations that Moscow is seeking to avoid scrutiny as it allegedly violates the sanctions to buy weapons from Pyongyang for its war in Ukraine.

Russia’s turnaround on the U.N. monitoring reflects how Moscow’s growing animosity with the U.S. and its Western allies since the start of the Ukraine war has made it difficult to reach consensus on even issues where there has been longstanding agreement.

The veto came during a vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have extended the mandate of a panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea for a year, but which will now halt its operation when its current mandate expires at the end of April.

The vote in the 15-member council, with 13 in favor, Russia against, and China abstaining, has no impact on the actual sanctions against North Korea, which remain in force.

Russia had never before tried to block the work of the panel of experts, which had been renewed annually by the U.N. Security Council for 14 years and reflected global opposition to North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapon program.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council before the vote that Western nations are trying to “strangle” North Korea and that sanctions are losing their “relevance” and “detached from reality” in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the country.

He accused the panel of experts of “increasingly being reduced to playing into the hands of Western approaches, reprinting biased information and analyzing newspaper headlines and poor quality photos.” Therefore, he said, it is “essentially conceding its