UN General Assembly demands Russia withdraw from Ukraine

Delegates place stuffed animals on their desk to symbolize the impact of the conflict on future generations

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that “demands” Russia “immediately” withdraw from Ukraine, in a powerful rebuke of Moscow’s invasion by a vast majority of the world’s nations.

After more than two days of extraordinary debate, which saw the Ukrainian ambassador accuse Russia of genocide, 141 out of 193 United Nations member states voted for the non-binding resolution.

The resolution “deplores” the invasion of Ukraine “in the strongest terms” and condemns President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his nuclear forces on alert.

“They have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist,” Ukraine’s ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly ahead of the vote.

Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Moscow has pleaded “self-defense” under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

The European Union’s ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog said the vote was “not just about Ukraine.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the General Assembly’s message was “loud and clear.”

“As bad as the situation is for the people in Ukraine right now, it threatens to get much, much worse. The ticking clock is a time bomb.”

The text of the resolution — led by European countries in coordination with Ukraine — has undergone numerous changes in recent days.

Nearly every General Assembly speaker unreservedly condemned the war.

She accused Russia of “preparing to increase the brutality of its campaign.”

Russia’s ally Belarus offered a staunch defense of the invasion, however.

And he followed other Russian allies such as Syria in condemning the “double standards” of Western nations who have invaded countries including Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent decades.

From the Arab world it was Kuwait, itself the victim of an invasion by Iraq in 1990, whose denunciation of Moscow was the most explicit.

Japan and New Zealand led condemnation from Asia, but the continent’s giants — China, India and Pakistan — all abstained. During the debate Beijing had stressed the world had “nothing to gain” from a new Cold War.

US President Joe Biden asserted Tuesday in his State of the Union address that Putin had underestimated the response to the invasion.

“Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

Originally published as UN General Assembly demands Russia withdraw from Ukraine

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