Ukraine denounces Russia as ‘terrorist state’ at UN meeting

Ukraine denounced Russia as a ‘terrorist state’ at an urgent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday following its neighbor’s latest attacks, as Western powers sought to underline the isolation of Moscow.

The UN convened the debate to discuss Russia’s declared annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions, but the debate was overshadowed by strikes on Kyiv and other cities in one of the most punitive assaults on Ukraine for months.

“Russia has proven once again that this is a terrorist state which must be deterred in the strongest possible way,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN in his opening speech. opening, adding that his own immediate family had been attacked.

“Unfortunately, you can hardly call for a stable and healthy peace as long as an unstable and senseless dictatorship exists in your neighborhood,” he added, telling member states that at least 14 civilians have been killed and 97 injured. in the attacks.

In response, Vasily Nebenzya of Russia did not directly address the missile strikes, but defended his country’s annexation of Ukrainian regions.

“We are being accused as we try to protect our brothers and sisters in eastern Ukraine,” he said.

Ahead of the General Assembly session, and with tensions at their boiling point, UN chief Antonio Guterres described Russia’s attacks as an “unacceptable escalation of war”, his official said. spokesperson.

US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, condemned the strikes in harsh terms, saying they “demonstrate the utter brutality” of Putin’s “unlawful war”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised even more “severe” retaliation after the recent explosion that damaged a key bridge in Crimea annexed to Moscow.

“Illegal annexations”

The decision to take the issue of annexation to the General Assembly, where the 193 UN members have one vote each – and no one has a veto – was taken after Russia used his veto at a September 30 Security Council meeting to block a similar proposal. .

The vote is expected no earlier than Wednesday.

“We do not and will never recognize the so-called illegal ‘referendums’ that Russia organized as a pretext for this new violation of Ukraine’s independence,” said Silvio Gonzato, a representative of the European Union. , who helped write the text.

The resolution condemns the “illegal annexation attempts” by Russia of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson following “so-called referendums”, and underlines that these actions “have no validity in view of the international law”.

It calls on all states, organizations and international agencies not to recognize the annexations and demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

In response to the resolution, Russia had written to all member states in a letter attacking “Western delegations” whose actions “have nothing to do with the protection of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter”. .

Nebenzya said that given the circumstances, the General Assembly should vote by secret ballot – a highly unusual procedure normally reserved for matters such as the election of rotating members of the Security Council.

“A Bit of Despair”

But Albania tabled a resolution against a secret ballot, winning with 107 votes for, 13 against and 39 abstentions. Russia lost a subsequent appeal to the petition.

Guterres himself bluntly denounced the annexations as “against everything the international community is supposed to stand for”, he said.

“He has no place in the modern world. He should not be accepted.”

In last month’s vote in the Security Council, no other country sided with Russia, although four delegations – China, India, Brazil and Gabon – abstained.

Some developing countries have complained that the West is giving full attention to Ukraine, and others may be tempted to join them this week.

The vote will provide a clear picture of Russia’s exact isolation. Given the high stakes, draft supporters are doing everything they can to win over potential abstainers.

On Monday, Ukrainian diplomat Dmytro Kuleba appealed to African nations, saying: “Neutrality will only encourage Russia to continue its aggression and malign activities across the world, including in Africa.”

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