Continuing its emergency special session, the General Assembly today condemned the Russian Federation’s attempted illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, and demanded it immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukraine territory.
By the terms of the text, titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” — adopted by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria) with 35 abstentions — the Assembly demanded that the Russian Federation immediately reverse its decisions of 21 February and 29 September related to the status of the four abovementioned regions.
These acts are a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Assembly declared. It called on all States, international organizations and United Nations agencies not to recognize any alteration by the Russian Federation of the status of the four regions of Ukraine.
[The Assembly’s eleventh emergency special session resumed on 11 October after the Security Council on 30 September failed to adopt a resolution intended to condemn the Russian Federation referendums that preceded Moscow’s proclamation of its annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. (See Press Release SC/15046 for details.) The draft Council resolution also would have declared that the referendums taken from 23 to 27 September in parts of those regions are neither valid nor form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine, including any purported annexation by the Russian Federation.]
In the discussion today, many Member States deplored the Russian Federation’s aggression towards its neighbour and its attempted annexation of Ukrainian land as blatant disregard for the bedrock principles on which the Organization was founded. The Czech Republic’s representative said the Russian Federation’s organizing of “fake voting amidst the war” is yet more proof of the intimidation and violations Ukrainian citizens are facing.
Some speakers were more neutral in their approach, while a handful sided with the Russian Federation. Among them was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whose delegate said that the people of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia voted to be a part of the Russian Federation. He also added that illegals acts of aggression against former Yugoslavia, as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, by the United States and other Western countries, have yet to be addressed by the Security Council.
The representative of Papua New Guinea expressed dismay that the Russian Federation as a permanent member of the Security Council could threaten nuclear war with such ease. Council members do not solely represent their own interests, but peace and security on a global scale. “Take a hard look at your respective actions and ask whether you deserve a seat,” he said.
Several delegations, such as Brazil and India, expressed worries that their concerns and suggestions were not included in the draft text, with Brazil’s representative underscoring that his delegation’s calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities were left out.
India joined several other speakers in expressing deep worry that the people of the global South were feeling pain from a food, fuel and fertilizer shortage, and sky-high price increases, as a result of the war.
Some delegates stressed the need to promote dialogue and diplomacy so that peace can prevail. They expressed concern that not enough was being done to bring parties to peace talks.
The representative of the United States said that the path to peace does not run through placations. The only way to bring peace is to “show what we will not tolerate”, she said.
Canada’s delegate dismissed the Russian Federation’s claims of Russophobia. “We do not seek Russia’s destruction; what we seek is for the Russian Federation to live up to its commitment” and to act as a steward of peace, he said.
The Russian Federation’s representative reiterated that the populations of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia voted that they did not want to return to Ukraine and that more than 100 international observers from Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Latvia and other countries, who observed the referendum, recognized its outcome as legitimate. He called today’s text a politicized and openly provocative document that risks destroying any efforts towards a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, Australia, Chile, Viet Nam, Colombia, Moldova, Federated States of Micronesia, Croatia, Hungary, Spain, Cyprus, Argentina, Portugal, Greece, Liberia, Belgium, Japan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Slovenia, Uruguay, Syria, Montenegro, Ghana, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palau, Timor-Leste, Germany, France, China, Venezuela, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Algeria, South Africa, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Thailand, Mauritius, Brazil, Cuba and Bolivia, as well as the Permanent Observers for the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta.
A representative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance also spoke.
The representatives of Rwanda, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo made statements in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 October, to consider the tenth annual report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.