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Ukraine: UN condemns Russia in block, calls for return to diplomacy

NEW YORK, MARCH 2 – The international community closed ranks and isolated Moscow on the global scene. At the end of a rare emergency special session and after a marathon of over 120 speeches, the General Assembly adopted today by an overwhelming majority a resolution against the aggression of Ukraine, therefore inflicting a severe moral and diplomatic defeat to decision to invade a sovereign country. 141 countries voted in in favor, five against ,including Russia and Belarus, while 35 abstained. The text, to which Italy contributed, is similar to the one which Moscow vetoed last week in the Security Council, although slightly moderated in language in order to obtain the widest possible consensus.

A thunderous applause greeted the outcome of the vote. “Let’s build a more fair and humane world today”, the Italian mission posted on Instagram, while Ambassador Maurizio Massari spoke of “an extremely important political act” in virtue of the vast number of countries that voted against Moscow. The resolutions of the General Assembly are not legally binding but carry a strong moral weight. “Proud that Italy has promoted the vote in the Assembly”, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio argued that message of the resolution is “unequivocal in expressing full support for the Ukrainian people and condemning without appeal the war unleashed by the Russian government”.

96 countries co-sponsored the document, some of which, such as Cambodia, joined minutes before the vote. Washington and the Western Allies were aiming to exceed the 100 ‘yes’ obtained in the General Assembly in 2014 on the resolution on the annexation of Crimea: today’s result was well above expectations. The adopted text no longer “condemns” the invasion, as initially planned, but “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. It also calls upon Moscow to “immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and to refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any Member State”, and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders”. It is then made clear that the United Nations is “condemning” Putin’s decision to alert his nuclear forces.

During the debate session, the West and the UN accused the Kremlin of violating Article 2.4 of the UN Charter which requires its members to refrain from the threat and the use of force to resolve disputes, whereas Russia had claimed to exercise its right to self-defence under Article 51. The speeches showed an overwhelming majority against the action of Moscow, and in the end the ‘no’ could be counted on the fingers of one hand: in addition to Russia and Belarus, only North Korea, Eritrea and Syria spoke out against the resolution.


The spotlight was all on China and the Gulf countries: the oil monarchies, typically allied with the United States, had remained neutral in recent days or had moderated criticisms towards Moscow, undoubtedly showing the growing Russian influence on the region, but eventually they got on board. Beijing abstained, as did India and Pakistan, but Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil joined the majority while Venezuela didn’t vote together with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The other “stans” – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgizstan – and the former Soviet Republic of Armenia abstained, as did Cuba and Mongolia, while Georgia voted in favour.

Many African countries abstained as well: Angola and Mozambique, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa. North of the Sahara, only Algeria abstained, in the Middle East so did Iran and Iraq, and in Latin America El Salvador, Nicaragua and Bolivia. Returning to Asia, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Laos and Vietnam. (@Onuitalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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