UN publicly rejects Russia’s call for secret vote on Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations General Assembly voted on Monday to reject Russia’s call for the 193-member body to hold a secret vote later this week on whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions of Ukraine.

The General Assembly decided, by 107 votes, that it would hold a public vote – not a secret ballot – on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s “allegedly illegal referendums” and “illegal annexation attempt”. Diplomats said a vote on the resolution was likely to take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

On Monday, only 13 countries opposed a public vote on the draft resolution, 39 more abstained, and the remaining countries – including Russia and China – did not vote.

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Russia said Western pressure meant it “may be very difficult to express positions publicly”. During the meeting on Monday, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, questioned the push to condemn Moscow.

“What does this have to do with peace and security or trying to resolve conflicts?” Describing it as “another step towards division and escalation, which I am sure is not something the vast majority of countries in this room need,” Nebenzia said.

After the General Assembly decided on Monday that it would hold a public vote on the draft resolution, Russia immediately tried to persuade the body to reconsider the issue, but it failed overwhelmingly.

Moscow moved to annex four partially occupied regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia – after holding what it called referendums. Ukraine and its allies denounced the vote as illegal and coercive.

The draft UN General Assembly resolution calls on countries not to recognize the Russian move and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

A picture of the United Nations Headquarters building with the UN emblem on it in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

‘Trail of Blood’

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergei Kiseltsya, called on countries to defend the principles of the United Nations Constitutive Charter.

“The Russian delegation left behind blood when entering the General Assembly and the hall was filled with the smell of burning human flesh. This is what we endured in Syria. This is what is happening today in Ukraine,” he said. General Assembly on Monday.

Russia rained cruise missiles on crowded Ukrainian cities on Monday in what the United States called “horrific strikes,” killing civilians and destroying electricity and heat in its widest air attacks since the war began more than seven months ago.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pressed the international community earlier on Monday to make clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions were “totally unacceptable”.

“Now is the time to speak out in support of Ukraine; it is not the time to abstain from voting, appeasement or evasive words under allegations of neutrality. Fundamental principles of the UN Charter are at stake,” Blinken said in a statement.

Russia vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member Security Council last month. It was trying to shake off its international isolation after nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly reprimanded Moscow and demanded that it withdraw its forces within a week of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The moves at the United Nations mirror what happened in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea. In the Security Council, Russia vetoed a draft resolution opposing the referendum on the status of Crimea and urging countries not to recognize it.

Then the General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring the referendum invalid by a vote of 100 to 11 against it, with 58 official abstentions, while 24 countries did not participate.

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Reported by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alistair Bell and Rosalba O’Brien

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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