(CNSNews.com) – In a resounding if symbolic message to the Kremlin, the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed by a significant margin a resolution demanding that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
Almost three-quarters of the world body’s member-states voted in favor of the non-binding resolution marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It passed by 141 votes to seven, with 32 abstentions.
Joining Russia in voting “no” were Belarus, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea, and the Assad regime in Syria.
Notable among nations choosing to abstain were China, India, Cuba, Iran, Armenia, and Pakistan.
Of six General Assembly resolutions critical of the Russian invasion that have passed over the last year, Thursday’s had the smallest number of countries abstaining. The earlier tallies of abstainers ranged from 35 to 73.
Of particular note was the fact countries voting for the resolution went well beyond those in the West. Russia blames “the collective West” for the war in Ukraine, and has looked to the so-called “global south” for support.
Two-thirds of the U.N. member-states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (92 out of 140 countries) voted for the resolution:
Of 54 member-states in the Africa group, 30 voted in favor of the resolution. (Of the remainder, 15 abstained, seven were absent, and two – Eritrea and Mali – voted “no.”)
Of 53 member-states in the Asia group, 36 voted in favor of the resolution. (Of the remainder, 13 abstained, two were absent, and two – Syria and North Korea – voted “no.”)
Of 33 member-states in the Latin American and Caribbean group, 26 voted in favor of the resolution. (Of the remainder, three abstained, three were absent, and one – Nicaragua – voted “no.”)
Speaking outside the chamber after the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pointed both to the number of votes and the range of countries in favor.
“One hundred and forty-one votes – this is much more than the West represents,” he said. “This vote defies the argument that global south does not stand on Ukraine’s side, because many countries representing Latin America, Africa, Asia, voted in favor today.”
Kuleba said the vote outcome was further evidence that “it’s not only the West who supports Ukraine. The support is much broader and it will only continue to be consolidated and to be solidified.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the vote as “really historic.”
“You saw one year after Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, full-scale invasion into Ukraine where the countries of the world stand. We showed where – we stand with Ukraine,” she said. “The vote was clear.”
‘Neutrality … is not a road to peace’
India has abstained in all six Ukraine resolutions passed by the General Assembly since the invasion began. The world’s most populous democracy has a long history of diplomatic, economic, and military ties with Russia.
India holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year, and will host its annual summit in New Delhi in the fall.
Asked whether Ukraine hopes India will use its presidency to promote a push for a negotiated settlement to the conflict, Kuleba said that its presidency does provide “an opportunity for India, as an important country, to demonstrate its leadership and to end this war in line with the demands formulated by this U.N. General Assembly resolution.”
“It’s in the hands of India,” he continued, “but it’s obvious that the way of neutrality and balancing between Ukraine and Russia is not a road to peace.”
Explaining her government’s decision to abstain, India’s U.N. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj told the meeting it was important to “ask ourselves a few pertinent questions.”
“Are we anywhere near a possible solution acceptable to both sides?” she asked. “Can any process that does not involve either of the two sides, ever lead to a credible and meaningful solution?”
“India remains steadfastly committed to multilateralism and upholds the principles of the U.N. Charter,” said Kamboj. “We will always call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only viable way out. While we take note of the stated objective of today’s resolution, given its inherent limitations in reaching our desired goal of securing lasting peace, we are constrained to abstain.”
Before Thursday’s vote on the draft resolution, which was sponsored by more than 70 countries, the General Assembly considered two separate sets of amendments proposed by Belarus, one of Russia’s closest allies and one that has been accused of abetting the invasion of its southern neighbor.
Belarus had proposed changes including removing references to an “invasion” and Russian “aggression,” and adding a call on member-states to stop sending weapons to the conflict zone. It also wanted the removal of arguably the most crucial paragraph of the text – the demand for Russia to “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
British Ambassador Barbara Woodward urged the assembly to reject amendments which, she said, “create a false equivalence between Russia, which this General Assembly and the secretary-general have made clear is engaged in a full-scale invasion; and Ukraine, which is exercising its right of self-defense against that aggression.”
The amendments were “not aimed at peace, but at defending the aggressor,” she said. “They are not proposed in good faith.”
The two sets of proposed Belarusian amendments were then defeated, by margins of 91-15 and 94-11.
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