UN resolution calling for Russian withdrawal from Ukraine gets 141 votes

United Nations, Feb 23 (EFE).- The vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution calling for the “cessation of hostilities” in Ukraine and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the neighboring country on Thursday received 141 votes in favor and 7 against, while 32 countries abstained.

The non-binding resolution ultimately was co-sponsored by 75 countries, including all the member states of the European Union, the United States and several Latin American nations, specifically Chile, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

The result of the vote was very similar to votes last March and October also calling for an end to the war in Ukraine, and besides Russia itself the countries that voted against the resolution on Thursday were – as before – Moscow’s closest allies: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria.

Among the countries abstaining from voting were China, India, South Africa, Cuba and the majority of African nations.

During the two days of speeches prior to the vote, many countries had launched repeated generic calls for peace and the start of negotiations to end the war, but the top official for European foreign policy, Spain’s Josep Borrell, said that those calls were “naive,” insisting that Russia has not shown even the slightest sign that it want peace.

The Europeans, who from the start promoted the resolution along with Ukraine, had warned that abstaining in the vote would not work because it would be interpreted by Russia as signalling support for the Kremlin’s aims, as Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Wednesday.

The central element of the resolution calls on Russia for an “immediate cessation of the attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and any deliberate attacks on civilian objects, including those that are residences, schools and hospitals,” and it calls on nations and international organizations to “redouble support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

Although the resolution calls for supporting “diplomatic efforts” to achieve overall, fair and lasting peace in Ukraine, it also emphasizes the need for accountability for the crimes under international law that Russia may have committed in Ukraine via investigations and prosecutions, a phrase that was criticized by several nations.

The resolution was brought up by Kyiv and immediately sponsored by the European Union, ultimately gathering sponsorship support from 75 nations. At first, it mentioned the “Zelenskyy peace plan,” named for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but that language was removed in favor of more diplomatic or less “anti-Russian” terms, according to what European officials told EFE.

The end result of the Thursday vote was that the resolution resembled that of Oct. 12, 2022, when – after the referendums held by Russia to annex four Ukrainian provinces – UN member states voted against annexation by 143-5, with 38 abstentions, most of those latter nations in Africa or Asia.

Another similar resolution last March had garnered the support of 140 nations, with 5 “no” votes and 38 abstentions.

Although General Assembly resolutions are symbolic and cannot be enforced under international law, they have become regular moves since the start of the Russian invasion given the inability of the Security Council – which is charged with maintaining international peace and security – to pass anything of the kind, hamstrung as such efforts are by Russia’s veto as one of the five permanent members of that body.

If the Security Council were to be able to pass a resolution of some kind to bring the war to an end – an impossibility under the current, and perhaps any, circumstances – that would be enforceable worldwide under international law.

EFE –/bp

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