UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an affront to our collective conscience” as the 193-member General Assembly meets ahead of a vote the United States said will “record history”.
Speaking on Wednesday during a special session of the General Assembly, Guterres called the anniversary of the Moscow attack “a grim milestone for the people of Ukraine and the international community.”
As fighting rages in Ukraine, the General Assembly debated a proposal backed by Kiev and its allies calling for a “just and lasting peace”.
While the measure was not as stringent as Ukraine has pushed for, Kiev hopes the majority of UN countries will support the non-binding resolution to demonstrate that it has the support of the global community.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield said the resolution calls on member states to support diplomacy and a comprehensive and lasting peace in Ukraine.
This vote will go down in history. “We will see the position of all countries on the issue of peace in Ukraine,” she said.
About 60 countries sponsored Accuracywhich stresses “the need to achieve, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
It reaffirms the UN’s “commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Russia also demands the “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.”
In his opening remarks, Guterres highlighted the impact of the Russian invasion on the world. He noted that it has created eight million refugees, and has damaged global food and energy supplies in countries far from the war zone.
With the new resolution, Kiev hopes to enlist the support of at least as many countries as it did in October, when 143 countries voted to condemn Russia’s declared annexation of several Ukrainian territories.
China, India and more than 30 other countries abstained during the previous UN vote in support of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told delegates that they were facing a “defining moment”.
The line between good and evil has not been so clear in recent history. One country just wants to live. “The other wants to kill and destroy,” he said.
More than 80 countries are scheduled to address the General Assembly, which is expected to vote on the draft resolution on Ukraine on Thursday or Friday.
As the debate began, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, called Ukraine a “neo-Naz” and accused the West of sacrificing the country and the developing world in their desire to defeat Russia.
“They are ready to plunge the whole world into the abyss of war,” Nebenzia said, adding that the United States and its allies want to consolidate their “hegemony.”
But EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell refused.
I want to emphasize this: this war is not a ‘European issue.’ As Borrell told the General Assembly, it is not about ‘West vs. Russia.’
“No, this illegal war concerns everyone: North, South, East and West,” he said.
The General Assembly has been the focus of UN work on Ukraine, where the 15-member Security Council has been paralyzed by a veto exercised by Russia as a permanent member, along with the United States, China, France and Britain.
The Security Council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine in the past year and will discuss the war again on Friday at a cabinet meeting scheduled to be attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Diplomats say Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not scheduled to attend.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this report
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