June 29, 2013

THE INSIDE STORY of Russia’s Fight To Keep The U.N. Corrupt. Not exactly an uphill battle. . . .

When U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Sochi, Russia, they were supposed to discuss the civil war in Syria. But the Russian leader — joined by his top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, and defense secretary, Sergei Shoigu — suddenly changed the subject to more mundane matters. A series of U.N. reforms aimed at streamlining billions of dollars of spending on U.N. peacekeeping was posing a threat to Russia’s commercial interests. Putin and his national security team politely but firmly pressed the U.N. leader to back off, according to several senior U.N.-based sources briefed on the meeting.

The high-level intervention on U.N. spending marked only the latest example of Russia flexing its diplomatic muscle to protect its commercial position at the United Nations. For much of the past decade, Russia has been engaged in a systematic effort to stymie attempts to root out corruption in U.N. spending. The Russians have pushed out U.N. reformers. They’ve defanged watchdogs. And they’ve blocked internal budget reforms aimed at saving costs.

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