Gulf states back UN vote condemning Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territories

193-member body demands Moscow reverse its actions

Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya speaks during the General Assembly emergency meeting. AFP
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Gulf states voted at the UN to condemn Russia's self-declared annexation of four eastern Ukrainian territories and threw their weight behind a resolution that demanded that Moscow reverse course.

The resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority at the UN General Assembly's emergency meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting began on Monday to debate a European-drafted resolution condemning Russia’s annexations, considered illegal by the West, as Kyiv's allies sought to underscore Moscow's international isolation.

In all, 143 nations supported the resolution while 32 abstained. Only North Korea, Syria, Nicaragua, Belarus and Russia opposed it.

Saudi Arabia, which the US has accused of siding with Russia over recent Opec+ oil production cuts, voted in favour of the resolution, as did the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

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

Last month, Russia held a series of what the West calls illegal referendums in Ukraine's breakaway enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Shortly after, President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the territories, even though none are fully in Moscow's control.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday's vote demonstrates the world is "more united, and more determined than ever" to hold Russia accountable for violating the UN Charter.

"Together with the UN General Assembly, we will not tolerate illegal attempts at annexation or the theft of a neighbour’s land by force," Mr Biden said in a statement.

Western nations engaged in intense lobbying before the vote while Russia’s ally Syria warned against isolating Moscow.

Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UN vote was a “powerful” demonstration of the international community’s widespread condemnation of Russia’s “outrageous, illegal attempts” to annex the territories.

“This is an important show of international unity against an aggressor that seeks to destabilise the international norms that protect us all,” Mr Cleverly said.

“The vote is indisputable evidence of what we have known for some time — Putin stands alone on the international stage and his actions are driving his country further into self-inflicted isolation.”

The war in Ukraine has entered a perilous new phase after the bombing of a bridge linking Russian-claimed Crimea to the mainland and the deadly response, in which Moscow unleashed a barrage of missile strikes against Ukrainian cities.

Updated: October 13, 2022, 4:02 PM