UNITED NATIONS—Ukraine’s foreign minister on Wednesday 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 favor of a—resolution calling for a peace that ensures his war-ravaged country’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.”
Dmytro Kuleba told an emergency special session of the—General Assembly 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—Charter.”
Calling this “a decisive moment to show support, unity and solidarity,” he recalled standing in the assembly urging its member nations to prevent war days before Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion. Against all odds, he said, Ukraine exercised its right to self-defense enshrined in the—Charter and has been able “to stop the much stronger aggressor and kick him out of half of the newly occupied territory.”
Kuleba said he had a message for countries that want to be friends with both sides and want an end to the war “with whatever result”: In this war there are not two sides, “there is an aggressor and a victim.”
“Never in recent history has the line between good and evil been so clear,” he said. “One country merely wants to live. The other wants to kill and destroy. There is no other country in the world that wants peace as much as Ukraine does.”
If countries don’t want to take Ukraine’s side, Kuleba urged them to take the side of the—Charter, international law and five General Assembly resolutions adopted since the invasion and stand up for the preservation of every country’s territorial integrity.
“Is there anyone in this room who is ready to give away one square meter of its territory to a blood-thirsty neighbor?” he asked, surveying diplomats in the vast assembly chamber.
Assembly President Csaba Korosi and—Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the emergency special session, and almost 80 countries will speak before the vote, including more than a dozen ministers.
Guterres called Russia’s invasion “an affront to our collective conscience” that violates the—Charter and challenges “the cornerstone principles and values of our multilateral system.”
The UN’s position is “unequivocal” in supporting the Charter’s principles, he said. “We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.”
Over the past year, the—chief said, the suffering, devastation and human rights and humanitarian consequences of Russia’s invasion have grown—and “it is also becoming more evident just how much worse it could all still become.”
“The possible consequences of a spiraling conflict are a clear and present danger,” Guterres warned, pointing to the irresponsible military activity at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, implicit threats to use nuclear weapons, and increasing regional instability and global tensions and divisions.
“It is high time to step back from the brink,” the secretary-general said. “Complacency will only deepen the crisis, while further eroding our shared principles proclaimed in the Charter.”
The General Assembly has become the most important—body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralyzed 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 Thursday, 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.
Russia’s close ally Belarus proposed a series of amendments that will be voted on first.
They would delete language referring to the “full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” “aggression by the Russian Federation,” and the demand that Russia immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukrainian territory. They would also call for the start of peace negotiations, urge countries “to refrain from sending weapons to the zone of conflict,” and call on—member states to address the root causes of the conflict “including legitimate security concerns of member states.”
Russia’s—Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed that Ukraine spent “all of its military potential” in the first weeks after “the active stage of the Ukraine crisis began” and said a year later, it is the collective West including the US, Nato and the European Union that is providing Kyiv with weapons, ammunition and intelligence information.
“It’s becoming very clear that the Ukrainian crisis will only become a catalyst for the visceral Russophobia to come to the surface,” he said. “It has now contaminated the American and European elites” who are competing against each other to impose sanctions when in fact the sanctions are hitting the developing world hardest.
Image credits: AP/Mary Altaffer