Sanctions against a South Sudanese general and a rebel commander were opposed by Russia, Angola and Venezuela at the United Nations Security Council late Tuesday, according to Reuters. The United States-proposed sanctions were meant to target Army Chief Paul Malong and rebel Gen. Johnson Olony for the role they have played in continuing to fuel a conflict that began in 2013.
Applying sanctions could make matters worse, said Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the U.N. “We think we need to take that into account,” said Churkin, according to the Associated Press. “The United States, very often they just say 'sanctions, sanctions, sanctions' and in some cases, it severely aggravates the situation.”
While the sanctions proposal for an asset freeze and travel ban was delayed, it could still be passed. In July, sanctions were levied on six generals in the conflict. A peace deal was signed in oil-rich South Sudan in late August, but the conflict has not abated. Angola said it wanted more time for both sides to implement a peace deal before turning to sanctions. The U.S. has continued to press for an end to the conflict, but a series of ceasefire agreements have failed to hold.
The conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir fired Vice President Riek Machar. This spurred attacks along ethnic lines. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka while Machar is an ethnic Nuer. Thousands have died in the conflict, and more than two million people have been displaced. Kiir has called for people "join hands" to work toward implementing the peace agreement.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Kiir and Machar to a meeting at the U.N. Sept. 29 as part of the general assembly. The AP reported that Kiir was no longer listed as attending the meeting. It remains unclear if he will participate.