Ukraine war: UN votes to demand end to Russian attacks and troop withdrawal

The UN General Assembly has voted at an emergency special session to demand an immediate halt to Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine and the withdrawal of all troops, leaving Russia diplomatically isolated.

The text of the resolution deploring Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine” sparked sustained applause and won support from member nations of 141-5, with 35 abstentions.

Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea backed Russia’s opposition to the motion, and China was among countries that abstained.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, but they carry political weight, so the vote represents a symbolic victory for Ukraine. Even Russia’s traditionally Serbia voted to condemn the attacks.

After Russia vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council at the weekend, Ukraine and its supporters won approval for an emergency special session, the first since 1997, to try to spotlight opposition to Russia’s invasion.

America’s ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the assembly that Russia was poised to intensify the brutality of its offensive, urging members to hold Moscow accountable for its violations of international law.

She cited videos of Russian troops moving heavy weapons into Ukraine, including cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, banned under international law.

“This is an extraordinary moment,” she said. “Now, at more than any other point in recent history, the United Nations is being challenged.

“Vote yes if you believe UN member states – including your own – have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for its actions,” she added.

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This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

(Press Association Images)

The resolution states 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.”

Before the vote, Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said of Russian forces: “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,” adding that “ the crimes are so barbaric that it is difficult to comprehend”.

Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, denied Moscow was targeting civilians and accused Western governments of pressing assembly members to pass the resolution, whose adoption he said could fuel further violence.

He repeated Russia’s assertion that its action was a special military operation aimed at ending purported attacks on civilians in the self-declared Moscow-backed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has warned a Third World War would be “nuclear and destructive”, as his country’s military pounded Ukraine with air strikes and artillery attacks.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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