UN veto sinks the sanctions
Russia and China torpedo the G8 plan to target Mugabe's men
Britain and the United States suffered a staggering diplomatic blow at the United Nations last night, when both Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution designed to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders.
The plan, hatched at the recent G8 meeting in Japan, involved an arms embargo, and a travel ban and freezing of personal assets, designed to directly penalise President Mugabe and 13 of his closest ministers and officials.
Russia was understood to have endorsed the plan. But when the resolution was debated at the UN, it agreed with China that the situation in Zimbabwe did not threaten international stability. Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that sanctions would have taken the UN beyond its mandate.
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the veto was "incomprehensible", and the US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Russia's veto raised "questions about its reliability as a G8 partner."
Zimbabwe's UN ambassador, Boniface Chidyausiku, welcomed the result, saying he was happy to see what he described as the US and UK's "machinations" failing. South Africa, which doesn't have a Security Council veto, also voted against the resolution.
Britain and America are now believed to be conferring on what steps, if any, they can now take in their attempts to bring justice to Zimbabwe.