Russia vetoes UN resolution on Ukraine war

Moscow's veto was never in doubt, but the UN Security Council vote tally was carefully watched

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Russia on Friday used its veto to nix a draft UN Security Council resolution condemning its major military offensive into neighbouring Ukraine in a vote that western officials say underscored Moscow's isolation on the world stage.

In all, 11 council members voted for the document, which was drafted by the US and Albania. China, which frequently aligns with Russia in the UN's top chamber, abstained. The UAE and India also abstained.

The resolution's backers are now expected to send it to the UN’s 193-nation General Assembly, where resolutions do not carry the force of international law, but where UN members do not have vetoes.

The council voted against the backdrop of chaotic scenes in Ukraine, where missiles pound the capital Kiev as Russian forces press their advance for a second day and as air raid sirens wail over the city of three million people.

The draft document would have condemned “in the strongest terms the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine in violation” of the UN Charter, which forbids members from needlessly attacking other countries.

It would have required Moscow to “immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.

Russia’s decision to use its veto was all but guaranteed. Still, Washington and its allies pressed ahead to demonstrate Moscow’s “isolation”, an official from President Joe Biden’s administration told reporters.

"Russia is isolated," Britain's UN ambassador Barbara Woodward said after the vote, noting that Moscow had "no support" for the war in Ukraine.

Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya accused western nations of ignoring Ukrainian abuses in the east of the country.

“You have made Ukraine a pawn in your geopolitical game, with no concern whatsoever about the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Mr Nebenzya said.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya led the council chamber in a moment of silence, asking members to "pray for peace."

He also told Mr Nebenzia to "pray for salvation" in a speech that was widely applauded by members.

France's UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said Russia was "trampling on the UN Charter" and had to "stop its war" or pay a "heavy price". Council members had a "responsibility" to condemn the war, he told reporters.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, slammed Russia's "unprovoked, unjustified, unconscionable war on Ukraine" that had forced some 50,000 Ukrainians to flee the country.

She praised Russians who had taken to the streets to protest against President Vladimir Putin's decision to "plunge them into a war against their neighbour".

The UAE's ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, called for "de-escalation and the cessation of hostilities" in Ukraine and the "resumption of dialogue" to end the conflict.

Russia holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for the month of February and schedules meetings and votes, though this responsibility switches to temporary council member the UAE on March 1.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths on Friday said more than $1 billion was needed for aid operations in Ukraine over the next three months, as hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.

“We're going to need to use cash for the delivery of assistance, and we're going to need to use that cash safely,” the UN's head of humanitarian affairs told reporters in New York.

“We're looking obviously at the impact of sanctions on our operations.”

Two UN officials who focus on violence against children, Virginia Gamba and Dr Najat Maalla M’jid, warned of threats to the safety of Ukraine's 7.5 million children and the prospect of young people being forced to fight.

“Negotiated peace must continue to be the objective over any military solution to the crisis for children to be spared from the horrors of armed conflict,” they said in a statement.

“It is not too late to save this generation of children from the scourge of war.”

Updated: February 26, 2022, 1:14 AM
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