Russia, China block release of UN report criticizing Russia

FILE -- In this Sept. 22, 2016 file photo, fighters of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government rest and reload weapons during an offensive against Islamic State militants, in Sirte, Libya. The warring parties in Libya and their international backers  the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan vs Turkey and Qatar  violated a U.N. arms embargo on the oil-rich north African country that remains totally ineffective, U.N. experts said in a new report. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)
FILE -- In this Sept. 22, 2016 file photo, fighters of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government rest and reload weapons during an offensive against Islamic State militants, in Sirte, Libya. The warring parties in Libya and their international backers the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan vs Turkey and Qatar violated a U.N. arms embargo on the oil-rich north African country that remains totally ineffective, U.N. experts said in a new report. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)

TANZANIA – Russia and China blocked the official release of a report by U.N. experts on Libya that accused its warring parties and their international backers -- including Russia -- of violating a U.N. arms embargo on the conflict-wracked country, U.N. diplomats said Friday.

Germany’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Günter Sautter, said he brought the issue to the Security Council after the two countries blocked the report’s release by the committee monitoring sanctions on Libya, which Germany heads.

“Many delegations have asked for the publication of the panel of experts’ interim report,” he said. “This would create much needed transparency. It would contribute to naming and shaming those who continue to blatantly violate the arms embargo in spite of agreements that have been made.”

But diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because Friday’s council consultations were closed, said Russia and close ally China again blocked the report’s publication.

Sautter said before the meeting, when asked what Germany could do if Russia and China blocked the report’s release again: “Let me assure you I will continue to use every tool at hand in order to make sure that we have the necessary transparency.”

The report, seen by The Associated Press earlier this month, said the arms embargo was being violated by Libya’s U.N.-supported government in the west, which is backed by Turkey and Qatar, and by rival east-based forces under commander Khalifa Hifter, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan. The panel said the embargo remains “totally ineffective.”

The experts said 11 companies also violated the arms embargo, including the Wagner Group, a private Russian security company that the panel said in May provided between 800 and 1,200 mercenaries to Hifter.

In addition, the experts said the warring parties and their international backers, along with Egypt and Syria, failed to inspect aircraft or vessels if they have reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains military weapons and ammunition, as required by a 2015 Security Council resolution.