At UN, Ukraine Finds Strong Support One Year Into Conflict

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly supported a resolution Thursday calling for “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” as soon as possible in Ukraine, in line with the principles in the U.N. Charter.

In a vote of 141 in favor, seven against and 32 abstentions, nations supported the text submitted by Ukraine that underscored the importance of finding peace. It also reiterated the assembly’s demand that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders” and called for “a cessation of hostilities.”

“Today’s vote is another evidence that it is not only the West that supports Ukraine, the support is much broader, and it will only continue to be consolidated and to be solidified,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters after the vote.

The special emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly, which opened on Wednesday and continued into Thursday culminating with the vote, was called to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. Kuleba appealed to the international community to stand by his country.

“We need to send a strong and clear message that the U.N. Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, should serve as the basis for the process of peaceful resolution,” Kuleba said during the debate.

“Today, we refuse to give up on hope. We refuse to give up on the potential of diplomacy, the power of dialogue and the urgency of peace,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in welcoming the result.

Seventy-five countries participated in the debate, including Russia.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia urged countries to vote against the draft resolution, saying it lacked substance and was “divorced from reality.” Moscow’s ally, Belarus, proposed two amendments to the text — one excluding the words “full scale invasion of Ukraine” and “aggression by the Russian Federation,” and the other calling for states to refrain from sending weapons to the conflict zone. But they were roundly voted down by the assembly.

Nebenzia insisted that Moscow is not obstructing peace.

“We are ready for a search for a serious and long-term diplomatic solution. We have stated this on many occasions,” he said. “Our opponents have not yet recovered from their futile illusions that they could defeat a nuclear power.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Russia had tried the entire week to distract and disrupt U.N. efforts.

“Once again, it has failed. We see that clearly in the vote,” he told reporters, flanked by many EU foreign ministers who had flown to New York for the meeting. “On the Russian side, there is a small handful of votes confirming that in the eyes of the world, the aggression against Ukraine needs to stop — and it needs to stop now and open the door to a just, sustainable and comprehensive peace.”

The countries that supported Russia’s position were those that have mostly stood by it since the start of the war last year: Belarus, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria.

There have been five other resolutions adopted in the U.N. General Assembly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, all with strong support. China abstained on three of them and voted with Russia on resolutions calling for Moscow’s suspension from the U.N. Human Rights Council and for Moscow to pay reparations to Ukraine. On Thursday, China abstained again.

Days after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that Beijing may be considering providing arms to Russia, China’s envoy urged countries not to arm the combatants.

“One year into the Ukraine crisis, brutal facts have offered ample proofs that sending weapons will not bring peace,” Deputy Ambassador Dai Bing said during the debate. “Adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate tensions. Prolonging and expanding the conflict will only make ordinary people pay an even heftier price.”

Asked about it by a reporter, Kuleba said it would be a huge mistake for any country to provide Russia with weapons.

“Because by providing Russia with weapons, that country helps aggression and blatant violation of the U.N. Charter,” Kuleba said. “As of now, China has been standing in defense of the charter and especially the principle of territorial integrity.”

China’s top diplomat was in Moscow this week, fueling speculation that the two allies are discussing a Chinese peace proposal.

“China will soon issue a position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” Dai told the General Assembly. Some reports speculate it could come as early as Friday.

On Friday, the anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, the U.N. Security Council will meet. One year ago, members were in a session trying to prevent the outbreak of hostilities when word came that Russian troops had moved across the border into Ukraine.

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