UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations General Assembly voted Wednesday in an emergency special session to demand an immediate halt to Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine and the withdrawal of all Russian troops, with the very strong support of the 193 member countries of the world organization which aroused loud applause.
The vote on the resolution, entitled “Aggression against Ukraine”, was 141 votes to 5 with 35 abstentions.
Russia won support for its call to vote against the resolution only from Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea, a powerful indication of the international isolation to which Russian President Vladimir Putin is confronted for having invaded his country’s small neighbor. Emphasizing that isolation was a major goal of the resolution’s supporters.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they influence international opinion. Under the rules of special emergency sessions, a resolution must be approved by two-thirds of the voting countries, and abstentions do not count.
After Russia vetoed a similar Security Council resolution on February 25, Ukraine and its supporters won approval for an emergency special session – the first since 1997 – to try to implement light opposition to the Russian invasion.
The resolution states that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine ‘are on a scale the international community has not seen in Europe for decades and that urgent action is needed to save this generation from the scourge of war’ . It “urges the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict” and reaffirms the assembly’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within of its internationally recognized borders”.
Ahead of the vote, Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said of the Russian forces: “They came to Ukrainian soil, not just to kill some of us…they came to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist”, adding that “the crimes are so barbaric that it is difficult to understand.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia then urged UN members to vote against the resolution, alleging that Western nations were exerting “unprecedented pressure” with “open and cynical threats” to obtain a measurement support.
“This document will not allow us to put an end to military activities. On the contrary, it could embolden the radicals and nationalists in Kyiv to continue to determine the policy of their country at all costs,” Nebenzia warned.
“Your refusal to support today’s draft resolution is a vote for a peaceful Ukraine” that would not be “managed from outside,” he said. “That was the purpose of our special military operation, which the authors of this resolution tried to portray as aggression.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters immediately after the vote: “The message from the General Assembly is loud and clear: End hostilities in Ukraine — now. Silence the guns – now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy – now.
“We don’t have a moment to lose,” he said. “The brutal effects of the conflict are evident… It threatens to get much, much worse.”
The assembly’s resolution, co-sponsored by 96 countries, deplored Russia’s ‘aggression’ against Ukraine ‘in the strongest terms’ and demanded an immediate end to Moscow’s use of force and the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian forces from internationally recognized Ukraine. borders.
The measure also called on Russia to reverse its decision to recognize the independence of two breakaway parts of eastern Ukraine.
During more than two days of meetings preceding the vote, there were speeches from about 120 countries.
From a small island nation in the Pacific to the economic powerhouse of Europe, one country after another raged against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for support for the UN resolution.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had a few supporters, including North Korea. And some countries took no position on the draft resolution, such as Suriname and South Africa, which called for compromise and diplomacy to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
Co-sponsors of the resolution included Afghanistan, where the Taliban overthrew the elected government last August, and Myanmar, where the military overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021. But neither neither the Taliban nor the military government of Myanmar have won UN recognition so support came from representatives of their previous governments.
Speaking in support of the resolution on Tuesday, Palau’s UN ambassador Ilana Seid told the gathering that Ukraine and Palau had little in common: “One is a large post-Soviet state in Eastern Europe and the other is a small blue ocean state. .”
Still, she said, Palau feels a certain connection because the two became independent in the early 1990s. of our former colonizers with Russia’s aggression towards us, invoking the justification of historical unity, it would be our people who would suffer the atrocities of war that we see in Ukraine today.
Seid said the claim of “historical unity” was Hitler’s justification for absorbing Czechoslovakia, setting in motion events that started World War II. “So history has shown us that we simply cannot make concessions to an aggressive power to avoid conflict,” she said.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, whose country is Europe’s largest economy, said what is at stake in Russia’s war in Ukraine is “the life or death of the Ukrainian people”, European security and the Charter of the United Nations which calls for peace, the settlement of conflicts and the maintenance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member countries of the United Nations.
Baerbock, who flew to New York to address the Assembly’s first emergency special session in decades, lambasted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying he was guilty of having told “blatant lies” to the UN Human Rights Council earlier on Tuesday claiming that Russia is acting in self-defense to protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine and sent its troops as “peacekeepers “.
In fact, she says, the world has watched Russia build up troops for months to prepare for its attack and is watching its forces “bomb the homes of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Kharkiv”, the country’s second-largest city.
“Mr. Lavrov, you can be wrong, but you won’t be wrong with your own people,” Baerbock said.
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