UN To Vote On Demand For Russia To Withdraw From Ukraine

The United Nations is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution demanding Russia withdraw troops from Ukraine one year after invading the country.

While non-binding, the vote will lay out the extent of support for Kyiv around the world as the war grinds on with Russia occupying large chunks of Ukraine and both sides gearing up for intensified fighting in the spring.

“Russia can and must stop, tomorrow,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on the second day of debate, endorsing the resolution.

“This war waged by Russia is everybody’s business because it threatens the existence of a state, because it represents a domineering and imperialist plan, and because it denies the existence of borders,” she said.

“Next year, we should not meet here to mark the second anniversary of this senseless war of aggression,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, also in support of the resolution.

– ‘Grim milestone’ –

On Wednesday UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the special session of the UN General Assembly to consider the resolution by condemning Moscow’s February 24, 2022 attack on Ukraine.

“That invasion is an affront to our collective conscience,” Guterres said.

He called the anniversary “a grim milestone for the people of Ukraine and for the international community.”

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba opened the debate by telling delegates that they faced a “decisive moment.”

“Never in recent history has the line between good and evil been so clear. One country merely wants to live. The other wants to kill and destroy,” he said.

The resolution, sponsored by Kyiv’s close allies, endorses Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, calls for an immediate end to fighting, and demands Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw” its forces from the country.

But Russia’s UN representative, Vasily Nebenzya called Ukraine “neo-Nazi” and accused the West of sacrificing the country and the developing world in their desire to beat Russia.

“They are ready to plunge the entire world into the abyss of war” to maintain their own “hegemony,” Nebenzya said.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell rejected that.

“I want to stress it: this war is not a ‘European issue’. Nor is it about ‘the West versus Russia’,” Borrell told the General Assembly.

“No, this illegal war concerns everyone: the North, the South, the East and the West,” he said.

– Who stands where after one year –

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution would show the strength of global support for Kyiv.

“We will see where the nations of the world stand on the matter of peace in Ukraine,” she said.

Kyiv hopes to garner the support of at least as many nations as in October when 143 countries voted to condemn Russia’s declared annexation of several Ukrainian territories.

Close attention will be paid to China, India and more than 30 other countries which abstained during previous UN votes in support of Ukraine.

Since late last year both India and China have criticized Moscow’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons if it feels existentially threatened.

Guterres highlighted Wednesday the war’s impact on the world, saying it has generated eight million refugees, and hurt global food and energy supplies in countries far from the war zone.

“As I said from day one, Russia’s attack on Ukraine challenges the cornerstone principles and values of our multilateral system,” he said.

“While prospects may look bleak today, we know that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the UN Charter and international law. The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be,” he said.