Russia in isolation as the United Nations marks a year of Ukraine war
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations on Thursday overwhelmingly isolated Russia, a year after Moscow invaded Ukraine, by calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” and reiterating calls for Moscow to withdraw its troops and stop fighting.
Just a day after China’s top diplomat visited Moscow and pledged a deeper partnership with Russia, Beijing abstained on the vote — the fourth time since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 year contained the vote.
The resolution was passed to applause on Thursday with 141 votes in favor and 32 abstentions. Six countries joined Russia to vote no – Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria.
“This resolution is a strong signal of unflagging global support for Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted after the vote.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, called the action at the UN “useless” and tweeted: “Will it bring peace? No! Will it encourage warmongers? Yes!
Russia had called the resolution “unbalanced and anti-Russian” and urged countries to vote no if it could not be changed. Moscow ally Belarus failed in an attempt to amend the text with changes including “preventing further escalation of the conflict by supplying the parties with deadly weapons”.
Western powers have provided arms worth billions of dollars to Ukraine since Russia invaded. The United States and NATO last week accused China of considering arms sales to Russia and warned Beijing against such a move.
“A year after the start of the Ukraine crisis, brutal facts provide ample evidence that arms shipments will not bring peace,” China’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Dai Bing, said ahead of the vote. “Adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate tensions.”
China’s abstentions appear to reflect an attempt to remain diplomatic over the war in Ukraine. Beijing says all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, but – alluding to Russia’s unease with NATO – believes any security concerns should be addressed.
“VENEER OF NEUTRALITY”
China has voted against two resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly last year that called for specific action – suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council and recognizing that Russia must be responsible for paying reparations to Ukraine.
China is trying to “maintain that veneer of neutrality by declaring to the world that it doesn’t take sides — but it has clearly chosen a side,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday.
He said China has “provided important assistance to Russia over the past year,” citing the non-lethal assistance provided by Chinese companies linked to the state.
Moscow has tried to break its international isolation. As Russia and the West vie for diplomatic influence, some states – particularly in the Global South – are concerned about paying the price of being trapped amid intense geopolitical rivalry.
“While we support the present resolution’s focus on the principles of the Charter and international law, it certainly does not bring us any closer to laying the foundations for lasting peace and ending the devastation and destruction,” said South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN, Mathu Joyini. who abstained.
Brazil voted in favor of the resolution, but its ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho said “the time has come to create space for dialogue and to start reconstruction”.
The General Assembly was at the center of UN action in Ukraine, with the 15-member Security Council paralyzed by the veto power of Russia and the United States, along with China, France and Britain.
The Security Council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine over the past year and will discuss the war again on Friday at a ministerial meeting attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Diplomats say Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will not attend.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Costas Pitas and Lincoln Feast.)