United Nations, Russian role in

United Nations, Russian role in
   As a result of successful negotiations at the February 1945 Yalta Conference, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) agreed to join the United Nations (UN) when the organization was founded on 24 October 1945. Joseph Stalin, ever protective of Soviet interests, gained the right of veto and permanent membership on the Security Council for Moscow; the other four principal victors of World War II (France, China, Great Britain, and the United States) also enjoy this privilege. During the first decade of the UN, the USSR issued 79 vetoes compared to almost none by the other permanent members of the Security Council. During the 1960s, the USSR enjoyed significant influence among the swelling membership of the international governmental organization, as newly independent, anti-imperialist states backed many of the Soviet Union’s positions, which were directed at the Anglo-American alliance and various members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
   Upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Russian Federation assumed the seat occupied by the USSR since 1945, including its veto power. Earlier that year, the Baltic States joined the UN; in 1992, the other non-Slavic former Soviet republics acceded to the organization as independent states (Belarus and Ukraine had been members in their own right since 1945). Despite the shift from an ideologically driven state (the USSR) to a nationally motivated entity (the Russian Federation), Russia—often supported by the People’s Republic of China—continues to balance the power of the West, particularly the Anglo-American alliance. During the 1990s, the veto was used sparingly; however, Boris Yeltsin did shield the Bosnian Serbs from international criticism and used his country’s position in the UN to attempt to broker a peace settlement in the Balkans on several occasions, as well as demand a role as a peacekeeping force in the area.
   Under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvyedev, Russia has used its veto (or threat of a veto) to prevent what it sees as “meddling” in the internal affairs of sovereign states. In 2003, Russia effectively scuttled American plans to invade Iraq under the writ of the UN; in 2008, Russia vetoed sanctions on Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, angering much of the international community. The Kremlin has also used its position to prevent Kosovo from joining the UN since its declaration of independence from Serbia. In recent years, the United Nations and Russia have disputed the latter’s claim to increasingly large areas of the Arctic Ocean.
   See also Foreign relations.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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