The UN General Assembly on Thursday approved a nonbinding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces, sending a strong message on the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion that Moscow’s aggression must stop.
The resolution, drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its allies, passed 141-7, with 32 abstentions, including China.
Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said the vote was more evidence that not only the West backs his country.
“This vote defies the argument that the Global South does not stand on Ukraine’s side,” Kuleba said. “Many countries representing Latin America, Africa, Asia voted in favor.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the vote “an overwhelming demonstration of support for Ukraine — and a clear defense of freedom for people everywhere.”
The General Assembly has become the most important UN body dealing with Ukraine because the UN Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralyzed by Russia’s veto power.
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, unlike Security Council resolutions, but serve as a barometer of world opinion.
The seven countries voting against Thursday’s resolution were Belarus, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, North Korea and Mali, which has developed close military ties with Russia.
Amendments proposed by Belarus would have stripped much of the language, but were resoundingly defeated.
The vote was slightly below the highest total for the five previous resolutions approved by the 193-member world body since Russia sent troops and tanks across the border into its smaller neighbor on Feb. 24 last year.
Foreign ministers and diplomats from more than 75 countries addressed the assembly during two days of debate, with many urging support for the resolution that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity, a basic principle of the UN Charter that all countries must subscribe to when they join the world organization.
The war has killed tens of thousands on both sides and has reduced entire cities to ruins. Its impact has been felt worldwide in higher food and fuel costs, and rising inflation.
In Kyiv, Ukrainian President President Volodymyr Zelenski yesterday pledged to push for victory as he and other Ukrainians marked the somber first anniversary of the Russian invasion.
As dawn broke on a day of commemorations, Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter that Ukrainians had proven themselves to be “invincible” in what he called “a year of pain, sorrow, faith and the unity.”
“We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory,” he added.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said that India and South Africa, which have not joined the West in denouncing Russia’s invasion, were likely on a trajectory away from alignment with Moscow, but that process would not happen “in one fell swoop.”
“There are countries that have long-standing, decades-long relationships with Russia, with the Soviet Union before, that are challenging to break off in one fell swoop. It’s not flipping a light switch, it’s moving an aircraft carrier,” Blinken said in an interview with The Atlantic.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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