UN General Assembly: 141 States Condemn Russian Aggression and Rights Violations against Ukraine

People ♦ Published: March 2, 2022; 21:22 ♦ (Vindobona)

By a large majority, the UN General Assembly has condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine. 141 states voted in favor of a resolution to this effect and demanded Russia's withdrawal from the country. Austria was represented by its UN Ambassador.

UN General Assembly: 141 States Condemn Russian Aggression and Rights Violations against Ukraine. / Picture: © UN United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly has strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called on Moscow to end its aggression.

141 member states of the United Nations voted in favor of a resolution to this effect in New York.

35 countries abstained, including China.

Five opposed the resolution. The five countries include Belarus, Eritrea, Syria, North Korea and Russia itself.

China's abstention is also likely to put an end, for the time being, to the small glimmer of hope that emerged the day before from a call between Chinese and Ukrainian foreign ministers.

China signalled it was ready to play a role in finding a ceasefire in Ukraine as it deplored the outbreak of conflict in its strongest comments yet on the war.

Beijing said it was "extremely concerned about the harm to civilians" in comments that came after a phone call between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. 

According to the Financial Times, the statement marked a change in tone from Beijing.

In the statement, Kubela said that he had "asked Wang Yi to use the level of relations between Beijing and Moscow to force Russia to stop its armed aggression against the Ukrainian people."

Kubela said his Chinese counterpart had assured him "of China's readiness to make every effort to end the war on Ukrainian soil through diplomacy, including as a permanent member of the UN Security Council."

Speaking before the United Nations' largest body, with 193 members, Western allies sought to make visible Russian President Vladimir Putin's international isolation.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg did not attend the emergency meeting in NYC, which lasted a total of three days.

Rather, he attended the first formal government meeting in Vienna since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

Austria is currently working in concert with the EU and with the involvement of the U.S. on a fourth package of sanctions against Russia, which is to target primarily Putin's oligarchs.

The minimum goal was 100 votes, as in a 2014 resolution that invalidated a Russian referendum in Crimea.

Hardly all members vote in the Assembly, and some of them also currently have no voting rights because of outstanding payments.

The Assembly had convened for one of its rare emergency special sessions after the U.N. Security Council failed to condemn the invasion by President Vladimir Putin's forces.

An adopted resolution in the General Assembly, unlike Security Council resolutions, is not binding under international law and has more symbolic significance.

The adopted text says the Assembly condemns Russia's military operation in Ukraine and also Putin's order to put the nuclear power's deterrent weapons on special alert.

The body demands that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any Member State.

Any territorial gains by Russia at the expense of Ukraine will not be recognized, the resolution says.

It goes on to say that serious concern is expressed about reports of attacks on civilian facilities such as homes, schools and hospitals.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebensya defended Putin's "military operation."

He made clear that it would not change its course despite the vote. "This document will not allow us to stop military activities," UN Ambassador Vasily Nebensya said. Rather, it could embolden "radical forces" and "nationalists" in Kiev, he asserted. Moscow portrays the democratically elected government in Ukraine as illegitimate and extremist.

Austrian Ambassador to the UN, Alexander Marschik, already questioned whether the veto power provided to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council undermines its ability to uphold international law.

Ukraine's ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, warned: "If Ukraine does not survive, the UN will not survive."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres denounced Russian bombing of Ukrainian sites, saying, "We have credible accounts of severe damage done to residential buildings, civilian infrastructure, and other non-military targets."

You can read Guterres' full speech to the UN General Assembly in the Emergency Special Session on Ukraine here.

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