April 14, 2011 / 11:55 AM / 8 years ago

Russia criticises U.N. force role in Ivory Coast

SANYA, China (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday U.N. peacekeepers had taken sides in the conflict in Ivory Coast and called this a “very dangerous tendency.”

A U.N. MI-24 helicopter flies in Abidjan April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The conflict ended this week after President Alassane Ouattara’s troops captured his rival Laurent Gbagbo with the help of French forces that have been in the West African nation since 2002 to back up U.N. peacekeepers.

A U.N. resolution on Ivory Coast “speaks of the use of U.N. forces, but not in order to support one of the sides in the conflict,” Medvedev told reporters in China after a summit of emerging market nations.

“The United Nations cannot take sides, but that is de facto what happened,” he said.

“We have serious questions for the U.N. leadership. I think this is a very dangerous tendency,” said Medvedev, whose nation has veto power as a permanent U.N. Security Council member.

Russia is sensitive about foreign involvement in election disputes and other conflicts because of criticism of its own democracy record.

Medvedev reiterated Moscow’s accusation that Western forces conducting air strikes in Libya have gone beyond the mandate of the U.N. Security Council resolution, approved in a March 17 vote from which Russia abstained.

“The resolutions should be executed in accordance with their letter and spirit and not in accordance with the random interpretations that were given by some states,” Medvedev said.

“When I hear that the resolution is bad ... this is not true. The resolution is totally fine, but countries should execute resolutions without trying to exceed their mandate.”

As the standoff in Ivory Coast developed following a disputed November election, Russia used the threat of a veto to quash a plan for potential military intervention by the West African regional group ECOWAS, according to diplomats.

But Russia voted with the other 14 Security Council members on March 30 for a resolution that imposed sanctions on Gbagbo’s government and echoed earlier U.N. calls for him to step down.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Gareth Jones

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