Member States today overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding the Russian Federation immediately end its invasion of Ukraine and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from that neighbouring country, as the General Assembly continued its emergency session on the crisis.
[The emergency special session — the eleventh called since the founding of the United Nations — opened on 28 February, meeting less than 24 hours after being mandated to do so by a vote in the Security Council, following its failure to adopt a resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s recent actions in Ukraine. See Press Releases SC/14808 and SC/14809 for details.]
Deploring in the strongest terms its aggression against Ukraine in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the Assembly also demanded the Russian Federation immediately and unconditionally reverse its 21 February decision related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
The measure was adopted by a vote of 141 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Russian Federation, and Syria) with 35 abstentions — a clear reaffirmation of the 193-member world body’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.
The Assembly demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its unlawful use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any further threat or use of force against any United Nations Member State, while also deploring Belarus’ involvement in this illegal action and calling on that country to abide by its international obligations.
The text urged the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means, calling upon the parties to abide by the Minsk agreements and to work constructively in relevant international frameworks, including the Normandy Format and Trilateral Contact Group, towards their full implementation.
On the humanitarian front, the Assembly demanded that all parties allow safe and unfettered passage to destinations outside of Ukraine, facilitate rapid and unhindered access to those in need of assistance inside the country, and protect civilians and medical and humanitarian workers. It further demanded that all parties fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to spare the civilian population and civilian objects, condemning all violations in that regard and asking the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator to provide a report on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and on the humanitarian response within 30 days.
Ukraine’s representative, who introduced the resolution, said that for almost a week, his country has been fighting missiles and bombs. Half a million people have fled as the Russian Federation tries to deprive his country of the right to exist, carrying out a long list of war crimes. The Russian Federation’s goal is not just an occupation, it is genocide. “Evil needs more and more space to conquer” if tolerated, he said, adding that the current text is a building block for putting an end to evil.
The speaker for the Russian Federation, rebuking those claims, said: “This document will not allow us to end military activities. On the contrary, it could embolden Kiev radicals and nationalists to continue to determine the policy of their country at any price.” Nationalist battalions are planning provocations with the participation of civilians that would then accuse his country of having carried them out. Affirming that the Russian Federation will not conduct strikes against civilian facilities or civilians, he asked the international community to not believe “the large number of fakes spread around the Internet”.
Likewise, Syria’s representative said the draft clearly represents a prejudiced attitude based on political propaganda fuelled by political pressure. Language against the Russian Federation attempts to belittle its right to protect its people and its security concerns. Had the United States and its Western allies been serious, they would have fulfilled the promises made decades ago to refrain from transforming Ukraine into a threat to the Russian Federation and should have stopped Ukraine from not complying with the Minsk agreements.
The speaker for the United States, who urged countries to vote in favour of the draft, said her country is choosing to stand with the Ukrainian people and will hold the Russian Federation accountable for its actions. Despite Ukraine’s courageous defence, the country has suffered devastating consequences, with up to a million people expected to flee their homes. The international community must welcome them, she said, calling on the Russian Federation to stop its unprovoked war and on Belarus to stop allowing its territory to be used to facilitate that aggression.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, added: “This is not just about Ukraine, this is not just about Europe, this is about defending an international order based on rules. This is about whether we choose tanks and missiles or dialogue and diplomacy.” Today's historic vote clearly shows the Russian Federation’s isolation from the rest of the international community, he stressed.
Turkey’s delegate expressed concern about the illegal act of aggression against a founding member of the United Nations “by a permanent member of the very organ entrusted with preserving peace and security”. It is still not too late to go back to the negotiating table, he said, adding that “as a neighbor and friend of both the Russian and Ukrainian people”, Turkey stands ready to support the peace process.
Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Solomon Islands, Myanmar, Pakistan, Djibouti, Bhutan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Permanent Observers of the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta, and a representative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.