West blocked Russia from international maritime body – Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry blamed an “unhinged” Western campaign for the IMO vote

Russia failed to secure re-election to the executive body of the UN ship agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), on Friday. Moscow has blamed the setback on the efforts of Kiev and its Western backers.

The London-based IMO is responsible for regulating the safety and security of international shipping, preventing pollution, and governing other issues. It brings together 175 member countries.

A long-time member of the IMO Council, Russia was ousted from the executive body after a secret ballot to select 40 supervisory members.

The outcome of the vote was the result of an “unhinged and politicized campaign,” unleashed by the collective West, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “From the very beginning of the election cycle, Western countries and their Kiev protégés set the only goal for themselves – to prevent our country from being re-elected to the Council at any cost.” 

In recent weeks, Russia has repeatedly warned the IMO was apparently losing its impartial role and was facing enormous “external pressure.” The anti-Russia campaign apparently culminated with an address by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who spoke to the agency on Monday via video link. Zelensky urged the body’s members to oust Moscow from the Council, claiming that Russia has inflicted the “worst [damage] in decades” to the “freedom of navigation.”

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Roughly half of IMO member-states supported Russia even after “unprecedented pressure” from the West, the ministry noted. “We are grateful to all our partners who found the strength to resist the neocolonial ambitions of the Euro-Atlantic allies led by Washington and Brussels and cast their vote for Russia.”

The ministry described Russia’s ouster as a “Pyrrhic victory” for the West, given that the actual work of the IMO is largely conducted within its subcommittees rather than at the executive body itself.

“Russia, together with its allies, partners and like-minded nations, intends to continue to play a significant role on the platform of the IMO, including in its Council as an observer. Efforts to counter the Westerners’ line of politicizing the work of the agency, as well as to return the IMO to its original purely technical mandate, will continue,” it concluded.

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