Russia's diplomatic isolation set to deepen in fresh UN vote on Ukraine

The 193-nation UN General Assembly is expected to back calls to tackle country's humanitarian crisis

The UN General Assembly Hall. A UN spokesman said the 193-nation assembly could vote on the four-page text as soon as Tuesday. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

Russia faced deeper diplomatic isolation on Monday, with the UN General Assembly set to vote on a draft resolution that criticises Moscow's assault on Ukraine and seeks to bring more aid to the millions of civilians ensnared in the escalating conflict.

A UN spokesman said the 193-nation assembly could vote on the four-page text as soon as Tuesday. This month, members overwhelmingly backed a resolution deploring Moscow’s air, land and sea assault on its smaller neighbour.

Though ostensibly aimed at easing the suffering of civilians, the document, obtained by The National, censures Russia for launching what it calls a “military offensive … on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades”.

It criticises the effects of “shelling and air strikes in densely populated cities”, attacks on civilians and journalists as well as schools, water and transport systems, clinics and cultural sites as well as the “abduction of local officials”.

The text highlights the “besiegement” of Mariupol, a focal point of the war where fighting has drawn to a brutal stalemate and where local Ukrainian forces on Monday refused a Russian demand to surrender.

It calls on Moscow to “stop its military offensive … and to return to the path of dialogue and negotiations” and to “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces” from Ukraine.

The text also makes repeated calls to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, where up to 12 million civilians have fled their homes and at least 900 have been killed — a UN figure believed to be a significant undercount.

The draft resolution condemns the “indiscriminate use of explosive weapons” and attacks on “civilian evacuation convoys”, while also calling for the protection of medics and aid workers trying to help civilians in Ukraine’s battle-scarred towns and cities.

France and Mexico originally drafted the resolution for the UN Security Council, but moved it to the larger UN assembly once it became clear that Russia would use its veto to torpedo the document in the 15-nation chamber.

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzya said the France-Mexico resolution was political and “anti-Russia”.

Moscow has drafted its own resolution for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, which makes no mention of Russia’s invasion, but postponed a vote on the draft on Thursday after it became clear that it lacked the required support to pass.

This month, 141 General Assembly members voted to deplore Russia’s invasion, leaving Moscow isolated, with only four nations — Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria — joining it to reject the document. Another 35 members abstained.

UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but can be blocked by permanent council members — Russia, Britain, China, France and the US. No members have a veto in the General Assembly, where resolutions carry moral weight, but are not binding.

Moscow has faced international opprobrium and stinging sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, but has doubled down on a war it says is necessary to halt the expansion of the Nato military alliance to its western border.

Updated: March 21, 2022, 4:11 PM