Isolated Russia defends war against Ukraine at UN


Faced with growing isolation on the world stage, Russia faced a crucial test of support on Monday as the 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly held an extraordinary debate on a resolution condemning the “aggression” of Moscow in Ukraine.

During the rare emergency special session only the 11th the Assembly has held in the 77-year history of the United Nations Russia has defended its decision to invade its neighbor as a member state after the member state appealed for peace.

“The fighting in Ukraine must stop,” warned UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres after the session began with a minute’s silence for the victims of the conflict.

“Enough is enough. Soldiers must return to their barracks. Leaders must move towards peace. Civilians must be protected,” he pleaded.

Representatives from more than 100 countries were due to speak as the world body decides whether it will back the resolution that calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

The resolution is not binding but will serve as a marker of Russia’s isolation.

The wording of the resolution has been watered down to try to attract maximum support, according to drafts seen by AFP. It no longer “condemns” Russia’s aggression in the strongest terms but “deplores” it.

A vote is expected on Wednesday. Its authors hope that they will be able to exceed 100 favorable votes although countries like Syria, China, Cuba and India should either support Russia or abstain.

It will be seen as a barometer of democracy in a world where autocratic sentiment is on the rise, diplomats said, pointing to such regimes in Myanmar, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Venezuela and Nicaragua. and, of course, Russia.

“If Ukraine doesn’t survive, the United Nations won’t survive. Don’t kid yourself,” Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said, imploring countries to support the resolution.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reiterated Moscow’s position categorically rejected by Kiev and its Western allies that his military operation had been launched to protect the inhabitants of the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

“Hostilities were started by Ukraine against its own people,” he said from the podium.

“Russia seeks to end this war,” Nebenzia added.

Vote in Crimea 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Moscow pleaded “self-defence” under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

But this has been categorically rejected by Western countries and the UN, which accuse Moscow of violating Article 2 of the Charter, requiring its members to refrain from the threat or use of force to resolve a crisis.

Addressing the General Assembly, British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said countries “must come together to uphold the rules and uphold the accountability we have built together”.

“If we don’t defend them now, the security of borders and the independence of every nation are at risk,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said “nothing can be gained by starting a new cold war” but did not indicate how Beijing would vote.

The decision to hold the emergency session was prompted by Russia using its veto on Friday to block a Security Council resolution that condemned the invasion of Moscow and called for the immediate withdrawal of its troops.

Russia had no veto power to derail the referral of the war to the General Assembly, authorized under a 1950 resolution titled “Unite for Peace”.

It allows members of the Security Council to turn to the General Assembly for a special session if the five permanent members Russia, United States, Great Britain, France and China fail to agree to act together to keep the peace.

There is no veto power in the General Assembly, which held a similar vote in 2014 condemning Russia’s takeover of Crimea and received 100 votes in favor.

In addition, on Monday, the Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, where up to seven million people are expected to flee the fighting.


Russia news

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