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Being at UNSC helps to form ‘axis of evil’

The fact of Russia being the UNSC member emerges as the only driver for it not to lose the authoritarian allies. At the same time, formal support that Russia is able to provide at the UN is not enough for the nations to respond by political and military assistance to the Kremlin, as they feel the risks it poses to their security and stability.

President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia, on December 31, 2022, spoke against Russian Wagner Group, as they wanted to open the office in Belgrade. Vučić obviously has information on Wagner ties to radical groups in Serbia, and understands the Kremlin can implement its own scenario in the Balkans, with official Belgrade unable to affect it.Vučić chided Moscow for withdrawing Russian peacekeepers from Kosovo in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as a precaution.

Vučić says Belgrade should work closely with NATO, as Russia once left the Kosovo conflict. Serbian President, in other words, implicitly acknowledged Russia is unable to function as a peacekeeper, with NATO successful in ensuring regional security.

The key message by Vučić was that Serbia keeps working with Russia, as Russia helps the Serbs at the UN Security Council. Belgrade admitted that way it cooperates with Russia mainly because Russia is able to block UN resolutions.

Syria, North Korea, Yemen and Iran enjoy that kind of support by Russia today. Being a permanent member of the UN Security Council and having the right to veto are among three pillars that make Russia exist, Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council says.

Congressmen Cohen and Wilson insisted that Russian invasion of Ukraine violates the goals and principles of the UN, that is why this country should be excluded from the Security Council.  President Charles Michel of the European Council also said Russia should be expelled from the Security Council for violating the UN Charter.

The Kremlin believes it is impossible to expel Russia from the Security Council, as it is not mandated by the UN Charter. China is not the one that would be in. Some arguments allow to make a decision without amending the UN Charter. Following the Soviet collapse, Russia did not pass the approval procedure for UN General Assembly membership, as the Security Council should have recommended that for a new state admitted. There is a precedent when the Czech Republic and Slovakia underwent this procedure following Czechoslovakia collapse. After Yugoslavia collapse, newly independent states also joined the UN with UN Security Council recommendations. Serbia, seeking to get a seat in the UN under the Russia succession scheme, had to pass the UNSC recommendation procedure, eventually.

That makes it possible, therefore, to call into question whether Russia is able to remain at the UN as a successor to ex-Soviet Union, with procedure ignored in December 1991.

US President Joe Biden has a slightly different approach to solving the veto issue, as Russia abuses it, having lost its image of ‘big state’ among the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. He said the UN Security Council needs to be reformed when addressing the session of the General Assembly at the end of September 2022.

Shaping UN reform is the work for the US and its allies. The matter is to promote the UN General Assembly role, as the balance of power that has emerged is not in line with modern challenges. The General Assembly will act as a decision-making center at the UN, with more control over the Security Council, especially over the nations that abuse the veto. This reform should weaken Russia’s hand and reduce the number of its allies, as Russia protects them at the Security Council from being hit by international sanctions. The UN General Assembly will consider every single case of applying the veto and weigh this decision in terms of UN purposes and principles. Aside from that, the Security Council is planned to be expanded by new members to reconsider the status quo that emerged after WWII.

The most likely way to restore the UN efficiency, therefore, is to reform it, as US President Joe Biden and his allies are pushing forward. That means increased GA role, with more permanent and non-permanent representatives of the UN Security Council, allocated seats at the UNSC for regions that should be represented at the Security Council, and refraining from vetoing, except for rare, emergency cases.

That reform would add credibility to the UN system as a whole, and also make it impossible for Russia, as the UN Security Council permanent member, to be an ‘umbrella’ for other authoritarian governments that remain among Kremlin’s allies.