UN chief calls Russia strikes 'unacceptable' as General Assembly meets on Ukraine

Putin has vowed even more 'severe' retaliation after recent explosion that severely damaged Kerch Bridge

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The United Nations General Assembly is meeting on Monday to discuss Moscow's recent attempt to annex four regions of Ukraine, in an emergency session that comes just hours after Russia unleashed a wave of deadly missile strikes targeting Ukrainian cities.

Ahead of the General Assembly session, and with tensions at a boiling point, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the strikes constitute another “unacceptable escalation” of the war.

“As always, civilians are paying the highest price,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed even more “severe” retaliation after the recent explosion that severely damaged the Kerch Bridge linking Russia and Moscow-annexed Crimea — an attack the Kremlin has blamed on Kyiv.

It is in this context that the General Assembly will meet later on Monday to debate a European-drafted resolution condemning Russia’s annexations of Ukrainian territory, considered illegal by the West, as Kyiv's allies seek to underscore Moscow's international isolation.

The decision to bring the matter before the UN, where the 193 UN members have one vote each — and where no one wields veto power — was taken after Russia used its veto in a Security Council meeting on September 30 to block a similar proposal.

A vote is expected no sooner than Wednesday. A failure by the UN to act would give “carte blanche to other countries to do likewise or to give recognition to what Russia has done”, EU Ambassador to the UN Olaf Skoog said last week.

The final draft resolution, seen by The National, condemns the Russian Federation’s organisation of so-called referendums in regions within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders, and calls on the international community to reject Russia's claims over Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson or Zaporizhzhia.

The text also demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and supports the de-escalation of the conflict and a peaceful resolution through political dialogue, negotiation and mediation.

“It’s illegal and simply unacceptable to attempt to redraw another country’s borders by force. It goes against everything the UN stands for,” a senior US administration official told reporters last week.

“This resolution will have buy-in from all regions of the world. It’s not just going to be the United States. As I mentioned, it’s not just going to be our European allies. It’s going to be a coalition of countries that are trying to build support for this.”

Updated: October 10, 2022, 8:49 PM