UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council veto power Russia said on Tuesday it was willing to consider imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan and that sending more troops could help stabilize the world’s newest nation after days of heavy fighting in the capital Juba.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for the 15-member Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the oil-producing nation, a move backed by the United States, France, Britain, Angola and other council members.
Russia said in January it was against an arms embargo, but on Tuesday Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that he was “not completely opposed” to the measure, though he was wary of whether it would actually achieve anything.
“We could do an arms embargo tomorrow and nothing will change so we need to have a comprehensive view of the situation,” Churkin told reporters. “An arms embargo is not a magic wand, a recipe for averting the worst there. So we need to give some serious thought to what can be done.”
“We’re not completely opposed ... it’s definitely a very difficult situation, so together with other members of the Security Council we are thinking about what can be done,” he said.
A day-old ceasefire appeared to be holding on Tuesday, barring sporadic gunfire, the United Nations said.
Forces loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar had battled each other with anti-aircraft guns, attack helicopters and tanks since Thursday, almost five years to the day since South Sudan declared independence from Sudan with promises of aid and support from world powers.
Kiir and Machar have wrangled for months over implementing a peace deal the pair signed in August to end a brutal civil war, which broke out in December 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar.
The Security Council said on Sunday it was ready to consider enhancing the U.N. peace-keeping mission in South Sudan and urged countries in the region to prepare to send additional troops if the council decides to increase the nearly 13,500-strong force.
“I think it’s quite likely,” said Churkin.
“If there are those who are prepared to send more troops then something needs to be done in order to try and stabilize the situation and protect the population, which is of course on the receiving end of this whole disaster,” he said.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish