Ukraine war: Zelenskyy hails UN call for Russia to withdraw troops immediately

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock addresses the United Nations General Assembly
Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock addresses the United Nations General Assembly Copyright Bebeto Matthews/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The UN General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution calling for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and demanding the withdrawal of its forces.

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The UN General Assembly has approved a non-binding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and demands the withdrawal of its forces.

The move sends a strong message on the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion that Moscow's aggression must end.

The 141-7 vote with 32 abstentions was slightly below the highest vote for the five previous resolutions approved by the 193-member world body since Russia sent troops and tanks across the border into its smaller neighbour on February 24, 2022.

The General Assembly's resolutions may be non-binding but are a powerful barometer of international opinion. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the UN vote, describing it on Twitter as "a powerful signal of unflagging global support for Ukraine".

The UN Security Council is the world body responsible for maintaining peace and security but is paralysed by Russia's veto because the country is a permanent member.

Foreign ministers and diplomats from more than 75 countries addressed the assembly during two days of debate, with many urging support for the resolution that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

That is a basic principle of the UN Charter that all countries must subscribe to when they join the world organisation.

If Russia stops fighting, this war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends
Annalena Baerbock
German Foreign Minister

In his appeal to the assembly, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said Ukrainians deserve “not only our compassion but also our support and solidarity.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, asked countries that claim “that by arming Ukraine, we are pouring oil into the fire” why Western nations would do that.

"The West didn’t want or choose the war and would rather focus all its energy and money on fixing schools, fighting the climate crisis or strengthening social justice," she told the assembly. “But the truth is: If Russia stops fighting, this war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.”

Opposition and abstention

Venezuela’s deputy ambassador addressed the council on behalf of 16 countries that either voted against or abstained on almost all five previous resolutions on Ukraine: Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Laos, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea, St. Vincent, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

While other countries focused on Russia’s actions, Deputy Ambassador Joaquín Pérez Ayestarán said Wednesday that all countries without exception "must stringently comply with the United Nations Charter."

He said the countries in his group were against what he called divisive action in the General Assembly, and for "a spirit of compromise."

China’s deputy UN ambassador Dai Bing told the assembly Thursday: “We support Russia and Ukraine in moving towards each other, resuming direct dialogue as soon as possible, bringing their legitimate concerns into the negotiation, setting out feasible options, and giving a chance to an early end of the crisis and the rebuilding of peace.”

“The international community should make joint efforts to facilitate peace talks.”

But European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters the aggressor and the victim can’t be put on equal terms, and Ukraine cannot be asked not to defend itself.

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