UN General Assembly demands Russia end Ukraine war

Screens show results from voting by the United Nations General Assembly as member countries pass a resolution denouncing the humanitarian crisis being caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 24 March 2022. [EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE]

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday (24 March) adopted by an overwhelming majority a non-binding resolution that demands an immediate halt to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

At the global body’s headquarters in New York, 140 countries voted in favor, 38 abstained and just five opposed the measure, with applause ringing out afterward.

The vote came after the adoption of a similar non-binding resolution on 2 March that demanded Russia immediately cease its use of force — a vote that was approved by virtually the same margin.

Russia’s friends in the UN counted on the fingers

Only four countries – Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, Syria – of the 193 United Nations members supported Russia in a UN vote asking it to “immediately” withdraw from Ukraine, an illustration of the isolation of this country under Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine put forward the new resolution, originally prepared by France and Mexico and addressing the “humanitarian consequences” of Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor, on Wednesday at an emergency session of the General Assembly.

A competing text by South Africa, which never mentioned Russia by name, received 50 votes for, 67 against and 36 abstentions, and was therefore not adopted.

Diplomatic tug of war over Ukraine escalates at United Nations

Russia is seeking to blunt Western-led efforts at the United Nations to further isolate Moscow for invading Ukraine, with the Security Council and General Assembly gearing up to vote this week on competing measures on Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis.

The approved resolution names Moscow and “demands an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular of any attacks against civilians and civilian objects.”

The same five countries voted against the resolution Thursday and 2 March Russia, Syria, North Korea, Belarus and Eritrea.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, welcomed the “strong majority” supporting the resolution.

The countries made clear that “Russia bears sole responsibility for the grave humanitarian crisis and violence in Ukraine,” she said.

“As President Biden has stated clearly, (Russia’s president) Vladimir Putin will not see victory in Ukraine. And we heard today that he will not see it here in New York either.”

France’s UN envoy Nicolas de Rivière, speaking on behalf of the European Union, praised the resolution as a “very strong signal” sent by the General Assembly which “recalls the urgency of putting an end to the humanitarian catastrophe” and which asks Russia to halt its aggression without delay.

President Joe Biden and his Western counterparts gathered Thursday in Brussels for NATO, G7 and EU summits, with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky also participating by videolink.

On Wednesday Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council on the “humanitarian situation” in Ukraine, but it was not adopted.

Moscow ally China, which has yet to condemn the invasion, joined Russia in voting in favor. But the Security Council’s 13 other member states pointedly abstained in solidarity over what diplomats said was the text’s unacceptable basis.

Earlier this week UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivered a cutting assessment of the invasion, calling the war “unwinnable” for Russia.

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