UN Assembly votes in favor of Russia stopping war in Ukraine

Only Belarus and Syria joined Russia to oppose the measure. This is a strong indication that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been subject to international isolation for his actions invading Ukraine’s small neighbor. The resolution’s backers sought to highlight this.

The abstentions included China and India, as expected, but also some surprises from usual Russian allies Cuba and Nicaragua. And the United Arab Emirates, which abstained on Friday’s similar Security Council resolution, voted “yes.”

Cuba had spoken in Russia’s defense on Tuesday, with Ambassador Pedro Luis Cuesta blaming the crisis on what he said is the U.S. determination to keep expanding NATO toward Russia’s borders and on the delivery of modern weapons to Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s concerns for its own security. He told the assembly the resolution “suffers from lack of balance” and doesn’t begin to address the concerns of both parties, or “the responsibility of those who took aggressive actions which precipitated the escalation of this conflict.”

Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do have clout in reflecting international opinion. A special emergency session resolution must be approved by two-thirds vote of the countries involved. Abstentions are not counted.

From Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden called the special session historic and a demonstration of “unprecedented global unity.”

“An overwhelming majority of the world recognizes that if we do not stand up to Putin’s Russia, it will only inflict further chaos and aggression on the world,” Biden said in a statement.

After Russia withdrew a Security Council resolution similar to Friday’s, Ukraine and its backers won approval for the emergency session to be held. This special session was the first in the history of 1997 to highlight opposition to Russia‚Äôs invasion. The measure condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the strongest terms. It demands that Moscow cease using force immediately and all Russian forces be withdrawn unconditionally.

The resolution says that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine “are on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in 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 its internationally recognized borders.”

The measure also condemns “the Russian Federation’s decision to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces” — an issue raised by many U.N. members concerned about that prospect.

Before the vote, Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told the assembly, “They have come to the Ukrainian soil, not only to kill some of us … they have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist.” He said that “the crimes are so barbaric that it is difficult to comprehend.”

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia urged U.N. members to vote against the resolution, contending Western nations exerted “unprecedented pressure” with “open and cynical threats” to get support for the measure. This document won’t allow us to stop military activities. Nebenzia stated that it might encourage Kyiv nationalists and radicals to decide the country’s policy at all costs.

” Your refusal to vote today’s resolution was a vote against a “peaceful Ukraine”, which would not be managed “from the outside,” Nebenzia stated. “This was the aim of our special military operation, which the sponsors of this resolution tried to present as aggression.”

The resolution also calls on Russia to reverse a decision to recognize two separatist parts of eastern Ukraine as independent. In a speech before the vote, the resolution also deplores Belarus’ involvement in the unlawful use of force against Ukraine. This was a statement that the Belarussian Ambassador Valentin Rybakov strongly rejected.

He stated that Belarus was only involved in organizing the talks between Russia and Ukraine, which will continue on Thursday. Rybakov stated that the resolution was a reflection of “double standards” towards Russia and the West U.N. Belarus took Russia’s side. After the vote, Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated to reporters: “The message from the General Assembly loud and clear is: End hostilities with Ukraine — Now. Stop using guns. 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 plain to see … It threatens to get much, much worse.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged all countries to “keep the momentum going,” do everything possible to help the Ukrainian people, hold Russia accountable and “match our strong words with strong actions.”

Explaining China’s abstention, Ambassador Zhang Jun used more emotional language than at previous U.N. meetings, citing “dramatic changes of the situation in Ukraine” and calling what is unfolding “heart wrenching.” He reiterated Beijing’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and for the peaceful settlements of all disputes in line with the U.N. Charter.

“The top priority right now is to ease the situation on the ground as much as possible, and prevent the situation from escalating or even getting out of control,” Zhang said.

During more than two days of meetings preceding the vote, there were speeches from about 120 countries.

From the small Pacific island country of Palau, to Europe’s economic superpower Germany, countries reacted furiously at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They urged for U.N. support. resolution.

Only a handful of countries supported Russia, while others took no position such as South Africa. South Africa refused to negotiate a permanent solution to the crisis.

The resolution’s co-sponsors included Afghanistan, where the Taliban ousted the elected government last August, and Myanmar, where the military overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021. Representatives of previous governments supported the resolution because neither Myanmar’s Taliban or Myanmar’s military government were recognized by U.N.

During the meeting, some supporters of the resolution had signs under the nameplates of their countries in Ukraine’s blue and yellow colors reading: “#TodayWeAreAllUkraine.”

British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the vote sent a clear message that the assembly condemns Putin and supports Ukraine.

” “We stand up against those seeking to redraw world’s borders through threat or force,” she stated. “For if President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine goes unchecked, which country could be next?”

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