United Nations/Moscow, Feb 28 (EFE).- The United Nations General Assembly on Monday began a special emergency session aimed at diplomatically isolating Russia by passing a resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
The General Assembly – a body whose membership is made up of all of the UN’s 193 member states – will vote later this week on a resolution similar to a UN Security Council motion last Friday that Russia vetoed.
No country has veto power in the General Assembly, so the resolution will pass if two-thirds of the body votes in favor.
Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said the UN Charter outlines a world where countries settle disputes by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force.
“The ongoing military offensive is inconsistent with this. It is an affront to the founders of the organization and everything it stands for,” he said. “The violence must stop. Humanitarian law and international humanitarian law must be respected. And diplomacy and dialogue must prevail.”
Separately, a slight ray of hope emerged from initial talks between Ukraine and Russia, with both sides saying they found areas of agreement that will allow them to meet again in the coming days.
Monday’s talks were held in the Gomel region on the Ukraine-Belarus border on the fifth day of Russia’s military assault of Ukraine, which saw heavy bombardments of the capital Kyiv and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
“We found some points on which we can foresee common positions. And the most important thing is that we agreed to continue with the process of negotiations,” the head of the Russian delegation, presidential adviser Vladimir Medinsky, told reporters.
“The next meeting will take place in a few days on the Polish-Belarusian border. It’s been agreed,” he added.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mihailo Podolyak, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, said in a video uploaded to Telegram that in the first round of talks aimed at achieving a cease-fire “the parties identified a number of priority topics in which certain solutions were outlined.”
He did not provide any specifics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a telephone conversation that a solution to the Ukrainian conflict will only be possible if the West takes into account “Russia’s legitimate interests in terms of security, including its sovereignty over Crimea,” which Moscow annexed in 2014 in a move regarded by the United Nations General Assembly as illegal.
Moscow also is demanding that Ukraine, which wants to join NATO, stand neutral between that alliance and Russia in all regards.
The hostilities continued Monday even as the peace talks were held.
Many people, including civilians, are feared to have been killed in Russian rocket attacks on Kharkiv, located near the border in northeast Ukraine.
Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko shared graphic footage on his official Facebook page purporting to show the Russian bombardment of the city and the aftermath, which included bodies strewn across a street and an older woman with a severe leg injury.
The Ukrainian military accused Russian forces of dropping cluster bombs – which are illegal under the Geneva Convention – on a village in the northern province of Chernihiv, “killing peaceful Ukrainians and wiping entire villages from the face of the earth,” the local military command said.
In Kyiv, a weekend-long curfew was lifted at 8am Monday morning to allow millions of residents to head out to shops for supplies along fortified streets, before a 10pm-7am curfew begins.
Ukraine’s military commander, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, declared that the country’s armed forces successfully defended the capital from Russian troops trying to storm the outskirts of Kyiv overnight.
An intelligence update by the British defense ministry on Monday said “the bulk of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30 km to the north of Kyiv, their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict.”