Following the rare and historic emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by virtue of the ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution, another historic UNGA vote had commenced on Wednesday with 141 out of 193 nations voting in favor of a United Nations resolution that “deplores” (no longer “condemns”) the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The resolution also demands that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally” withdraw all its troops and military forces from Ukraine.
With a vote of 141 nations in favor of the resolution entitled “Aggression against Ukraine,” the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supported Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, “deploring” the Russian invasion of Ukraine “in the strongest terms.” Despite being supported by most nations in the entire world, the resolution, which demanded that all Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine, was also met with 5 against and 35 abstentions.
Russia found itself with few friends during the vote with North Korea, Eritrea. Belarus and, Syria voting against the measure. Some rather significant abstentions were cast by India, China, Iraq and South Africa. While China’s abstentions clearly reflect their close ideological ties to Russia the others are reflective of Russia providing vast amounts of military equipment to these countries and the fear that a vote against them will result in those shipments being cut off. In the case of India, it receives 23% of total Russian arms shipments between 2016 and 2019. These arms include tanks, planes, helicopters, missiles, radars, ships, and, a submarine. In addition to the shipment of arms, there are vast quantities of spare parts as well. Without Russia, India’s planes will not fly, its tanks cannot be repaired and its ships will be stuck in port. These abstentions illustrate the control that Russia is able to exert as the world’s largest supplier of arms to other countries.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Abdulla Shahid, who was presiding over the session, had to wait until the standing ovation with thunderous applause had stopped so that he could properly announce the results.
What was the voting result?
The abstentions, on the other hand, came from Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
“The vote is a powerful message to the Russian Federation,” said the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya. “I express my sincere gratitude to all nations who have already came forward, offered assistance in money, goods, shelter,” he continued.
When asked about US President Joe Biden’s statements regarding Ukraine during his State of the Union address, Kyslytsya stated that he almost cried when he saw Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova almost crying. He praised the US for their help and hoped that the words of President Biden would be backed-up by specific actions.
“The resolute posture of the American people, not just by the politicians in the Senate, [but] by the American people that matters. The spirit of freedom and liberty is genetically in the blood of Ukrainians, and Americans, of the British, of the Poles, of all freedom-loving nations on this planet… and I am sure that the nature of this country is that every single word of President Biden will be followed by specific actions of his government and by specific actions of the members of the US Congress,” he said after the UN General Assembly vote.
Today’s #UNGA resolution reflects a central truth:
The world wants an end to the tremendous human suffering in Ukraine.
I will continue to do everything in my power to contribute to an immediate cessation of hostilities and urgent negotiations for peace. pic.twitter.com/vhAol1kyfi
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) March 2, 2022
US Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the UNGA’s collective messages had been heard by the world “loud and clear.”
“End hostilities in Ukraine – now. Silence the guns – now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy — now,” he said through a statement. “As bad as the situation is for the people in Ukraine right now, it threatens to get much, much worse. The ticking clock is a time bomb,” he continued. “We don’t have a moment to lose.”
In response, Russia’s UN Representative Vasily Nebenzya denied what was said during the UNGA speeches that they were targeting civilians. He exerted again that the so-called ‘special military operation’ was to end Ukraine’s civilian attacks on the Russian allied Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” and even went on to say that the Ukrainians were using these civilians as human shields.
“Your refusal to support today’s draft resolution is a vote for a peaceful Ukraine free from radicalism and neo-Nazism,” he told the UNGA.
China’s UN Representative Zhang Jun stated that the vote did not take full consideration of the complexity of the crisis and that it does not highlight the importance of the principle of indivisible security.
On the other hand, US Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that Russia had been preparing to increase the brutality of its campaign in Ukraine and that they had been using lethal weaponry such as cluster munitions and vacuum bombs to inflict maximum damage on Ukrainian soil.
Why Does This Particular UNGA Session Matter?
This particular UNGA session matters as it was the first time in 40 years that the Uniting for Peace resolution was invoked, with the last session of its kind convened due to the Israeli crisis in 1982. The resolution can be invoked when members of the United Nations Security Council fail to exercise their responsibilities of maintaining peace. This manifested when Russia used its veto power to block a UNSC resolution that condemned their invasion of Ukraine. In the UNGA, no country can veto any resolution.
While adopting a UN resolution condemning the Russian attack may be successful on paper, this does not mean actual violence and Russian aggression in Ukraine would halt. In simpler terms, the resolution is non-binding, which means it does not have the capacity to be legally binding. This is why the United Nations have been the subject of extreme criticism over the decades due to its perceived ineffectiveness in preserving peace and stability.
It does, however, carry enormous political weight. It signifies that the majority of the world agrees on a critical world issue (that being Russia’s unfounded and unjustified reasons for invading Ukraine) and can potentially unify to put an end to said issue through fiscal and economic sanctions or simply through negotiations. It is a symbolic win for Ukraine and its allies as more countries may join their call for more sanctions in an attempt to pressure Russia to stand down, especially when it was reported that civilians were being targeted by Russian forces in its various assaults.
As was reported by SOFREP in the past week, these sanctions had already been imposed on Russia, including its financial system, several banks, Russian oligarchies, and Putin himself. Countries that imposed sanctions on Russia were the United States, the European Union, Ukraine, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and even Switzerland, to name a few. The most notable recent sanction was the banning of several Russian banks from SWIFT, an international payment system that could wreak havoc for the Russian business atmosphere along with its economy.
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