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Ukraine war: Russia's invasion 'an affront to our collective conscience', says UN's Guterres

A residential building destroyed by a Russian rocket in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, Feb. 15, 2023. Authorities said at least two people were killed and 12 injured.
A residential building destroyed by a Russian rocket in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, Feb. 15, 2023. Authorities said at least two people were killed and 12 injured. Copyright AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File
Copyright AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File
By Euronews with AP
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A UN resolution put forward by Ukraine and its allies calls for a peace to guarantee the country’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity”.

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UN chief António Guterres has described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "an affront to our collective conscience” and "a violation of international law.”

The Secretary General's words marked the start of a debate at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly aimed at getting a broad support for "a just and lasting peace" resolution.

"The one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stands as a grim milestone — for the people of Ukraine and for the international community. That invasion is an affront to our collective conscience... And the impact is being felt far beyond Ukraine,” Guterres told the assembly.

Ukraine’s foreign minister urged the world’s nations as the anniversary of Russia’s invasion nears to prove they stand for the United Nations Charter and vote in favour of the UN resolution, put forward by Ukraine and its allies.

It calls for a peace that ensures the war-ravaged country’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity”.

Dmytro Kuleba said that despite Moscow’s “empty calls” for negotiations, “Russia still wants to destroy Ukraine as a nation”.

He said the resolution, to be put to a vote Thursday in the 193-member world body, “will contribute to our joint efforts to bring the war to an end as well as protect the fundamental principles of international law and the UN Charter”.

"There is no other country in the world that wants peace as much as Ukraine does. We never wanted war. We never planned to attack anyone. Our troops do not stand in anyone else’s land,” Kuleba said.

Guterres said the UN’s position was “unequivocal” in supporting the Charter’s principles. “We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders.”

The General Assembly has become the most important UN body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralysed as a result of Russia’s veto power. 

While the assembly’s five previous resolutions on Ukraine are not legally binding — as council resolutions are — they are important as a reflection of world opinion.

There are no vetoes in the assembly, so the resolution is certain to be approved, but the big question is how many “yes” votes it will get. An October 12 resolution condemning Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions and demanding its immediate reversal got the highest vote of the five resolutions — 143-5 with 35 abstentions.

"Colleagues, this vote will go down in history. On the one-year anniversary of this conflict, we will see where the nations of the world stand on the matter of peace in Ukraine," said the US Permanent Representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzya said that Moscow had "no other option" but to launch its "special military operation" in Ukraine a year ago.

He criticised the US, NATO and the European Union for providing Kyiv with weapons, ammunition and intelligence information.

"In this desire of theirs to defeat Russia in any way possible, they can not just sacrifice Ukraine, they are ready to plunge the entire world into the abyss of war," Nebenzya said.

The draft resolution calling for a halt to hostilities, sponsored by some 60 countries, is only symbolic. Large countries such as China and India are expected to continue to abstain.

The UN General Assembly has become the focus for UN action on Ukraine, given the paralysis of the Security Council due to the veto power of permanent members Russia and China.

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