UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday on a resolution backed by more than 90 countries that blames Russia for the escalating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and calls for an immediate halt to hostilities, especially Attacks on civilians and their homes, schools and hospitals.
Russia has described the proposal as “anti-Russian” and accuses its supporters of not being genuinely concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground, saying they want to politicize aid.
The vote follows the Security Council’s massive defeat on Wednesday of a Russian resolution that would have acknowledged Ukraine’s growing humanitarian needs – but without mentioning Russia’s invasion that left millions of Ukrainians in dire need of food, water and shelter Is.
The council took action hours after the General Assembly considered a separate resolution entitled “Humanitarian Consequences of Aggression Against Ukraine”, which was drafted by Ukraine and two dozen other countries from all parts of the world. There were over 70 scheduled speakers and only 62 were able to give their remarks, so the final speech and voting were postponed until Thursday.
The assembly will also consider a rival South African proposal, which does not mention Russia and is similar to a Russian proposal rejected by the Security Council.
Voting on the Russian resolution reflects Moscow’s failure to garner widespread support for its military offensive in Ukraine, marking its one-month anniversary on Thursday.
To be adopted, Russia needed a minimum of nine “yes” votes in the 15-member Security Council and was not vetoed by one of the four other permanent members – the US, Britain, France and China. But Russia found support only from its ally China, which did not include 13 other council members.
Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, called Russia’s draft “a cynical attempt to take advantage of the crisis it has created” and told reporters that “Russia has consistently wronged its hand here, and which What it has done is seriously underestimated its consequences and undermined the international perception of what it has done.”
Before and after the vote, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia and US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield argued about Russia’s decision to draft an aggressive and humanitarian resolution.
Nebenzia told the council that Russia’s resolution, like other humanitarian resolutions, “is not politicised.”
Thomas-Greenfield countered that Russia was “attempting to use this council to provide cover for its brutal actions.”
“Russia does not care about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions,” she said. “If they cared, they would have stopped fighting. Russia aggressor, aggressor, aggressor, is the only party in Ukraine engaged in a campaign of brutality against the people of Ukraine, and they want us to pass a resolution that does not acknowledge their culpability.
China’s vote on Wednesday supported a Russian draft on Ukraine for the first time since the February 24 invasion. It demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all Russian forces from its smaller neighbour, at the resolution of the General Assembly of 2 March.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said China’s support for the resolution was to emphasize its call for the international community “to attach high importance to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine” and for the parties to protect the safety of civilians.
Russia presented its proposal on 15 March. A day earlier, France and Mexico decided to move their proposed humanitarian resolution blaming the Russian aggression for the humanitarian crisis outside the Security Council, where it faced a Russian veto, into the 193-member General Assembly with no veto. Is.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they have the power to reflect international opinion.
Throughout Wednesday, the assembly heard speeches beginning with Ukrainian ambassador Sergei Kislitsy, who urged all countries to vote for a resolution on the humanitarian consequences of Russia’s military offensive. He said it would send a powerful message aimed at helping those in conflict and ending Moscow’s military crackdown.
Nebenzia told the assembly that by considering the Ukraine-backed resolution, it was involved in “another political anti-Russian show, this time set in an allegedly humanitarian context.”
He warned that adopting that draft would “make it more difficult to resolve the situation in Ukraine” as it would likely encourage Ukrainian negotiators to maintain their “currently unrealistic position” and not deal with the root causes of Russia’s military action. .
In his assembly speech, Thomas-Greenfield sharply criticized Russia, saying, “In one month, Russia caused the fastest growing humanitarian catastrophe in the world.”
According to the United Nations, about 10 million Ukrainians – a quarter of its population – have fled their homes and are now displaced in the country, or 3.6 million of the refugees, they told the assembly, and 12 million need aid and 5.6 million are in need. Millions of children are unable to go to school.
South Korean ambassador Cho Hyun compared what Ukrainian children are experiencing to the plight of children in their own country during the Korean War in the 1950s. “It is the most urgent and collective responsibility of this organization to stop this horrific replica of the suffering of children in the 20th century.”
Albanian Ambassador Ferit Hoxha urged the countries of the world not to forget the responsibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “This is the war of a man who is in his own solitude, and who by his reckless actions has, in a matter of weeks, managed to create the greatest solitude and world isolation of his own country ever.”
But Russia has some supporters besides China, including Syrian ambassador Bassem Sabbagh, who said the assembly was once again seeing “exploitation of human rights issues to create a situation of polarization and politicization, the political interests of some.” used for the service.”
The draft reiterates the March 2 resolution’s demand for an immediate Russian ceasefire and it calls for protection for all civilians and the infrastructure essential to their survival.
The resolution condemns the “serious humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s aggression, which it says are “on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades.” It condemns Russia’s shelling, airstrikes and “siege” of densely populated cities, and calls for unhindered access to humanitarian aid.
The South African draft calls for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” as a first step in mitigating the humanitarian crisis and “encourages political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means aimed at achieving lasting peace.” There is no mention of Russian attack in this.
Russian officials say they did not start the war and have repeatedly and incorrectly decried reports of Russian military failures or civilian deaths in Ukraine as fake news. State media outlets and government officials insist that Russian troops only target military facilities.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.