UN General Assembly draws closer to demanding Russia withdraw from Ukraine

Updated on Mar 02, 2022 02:11 PM IST

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week global outrage has grown but the chorus has not led to the withdrawal of troops, or even a reduction in hostilities.

The United Nations holds a second day of emergency special session of General Assembly meetings on the topic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in New York City on March 1, 2022. (Photo by Andrea RENAULT / AFP)(AFP)
The United Nations holds a second day of emergency special session of General Assembly meetings on the topic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in New York City on March 1, 2022. (Photo by Andrea RENAULT / AFP)(AFP)

Two days after an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly was convened - and over 100 countries gathered to discuss Russia's war on Ukraine - the global body is set to vote on a non-binding resolution demanding Moscow withdraws its troops. A draft resolution - seen by some diplomats as a key test of democracy in a world increasingly run by autocratic governments - is being prepared and will likely be presented later today.

Full coverage: Russia invades Ukraine

On paper the non-binding (and that is important) resolution will serve as a powerful rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin's 'sinister vision for the future of the world.

The resolution must be approved by a two-thirds majority to pass.

The good news for Ukraine is that the General Assembly resolution - unlike the one tabled by the Security Council - cannot be vetoed by Russia, and will likely be supported by an overwhelming majority of the 193-member strong body.

Many of the nations that spoke did so in strong terms; Colombia rejected any return to a '(Russian) empire' and Albania wondered 'Who will be next?'.

ALSO READ: Over 100 diplomats of West, allies walk out on Russia's UN speech

The bad news is the language in the draft has been significantly toned down.

It no longer 'condemns' the invasion as initially expected, but instead 'deplores in the strongest terms the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine'.

It also makes clear the UN is 'condemning' Putin's decision to put his nuclear forces on alert, a move that ignited an immediate outcry from the West.

The term 'deplore' was also present (watered down from stronger sentiments) in the vetoed UNSC resolution too. The Indian government - criticised internally for a soft stand - abstained from voting but offered a critical explanation.

The General Assembly discussion also highlighted the fact Russia can still count on a some countries to sound a cautious note about its actions, if not mount an outright defense.

China stressed there is 'nothing to gain' from a new Cold War.

Syria, Nicaragua, and North Korea all blasted what they saw as the double standards of Western nations who have invaded countries including Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

Several countries are yet to speak, including Moscow's ally Belarus - which has allowed Russia to use its territory as a launchpad for part of the invasion - and the United States.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week global outrage has grown but the chorus has not led to the withdrawal of troops, or even a reduction in hostilities. 

Disconnection from SWIFT - the global messaging system used by financial institutions - was seen as a  harsh move, but that has yielded no result, with Russia today stepping up offensives to capture the city of Kharkiv.

Sanctions against billionaires and freezing of assets of key political figures, including Putin and minister Sergei Lavrov, also seem to have failed, as have bans on Russian airlines and on social media and TV news outlets.

Putin's and Russia's apparent disregard of these sanctions tells a different story.

Lavrov told France24 on Monday these measures could not cause an economic meltdown and 'Russia will not only survive but will come out much stronger'.

US President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, in which he warned Putin he had 'badly miscalculated' the situation.

How far the American President, widely seen as among those leading the world in support of Ukraine, will go to back his words will play a big role in how long the war drags on.

With input from AFP

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Chandrashekar is a Senior Editor at Hindustan Times. A journalist with 11+ years across print and digital media, he also has degrees in Sociology and Economics. He has worked in the political, business, sports, and entertainment news spaces, but is happiest just watching football.

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