US seeks UN support for resolution calling for Ukraine peace

The UN General Assembly will this week vote on a resolution calling for a 'comprehensive, just and lasting peace' in Ukraine

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at a Security Council meeting on Ukraine on February 6. Reuters
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The US on Tuesday urged nations to support a coming UN resolution to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and push the need for diplomatic efforts to achieve a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace".

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called for peace that is consistent with the UN Charter, "especially the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity".

About 70 countries have co-sponsored a non-binding resolution that will be discussed at an emergency session that starts on Wednesday and probably will be put to a vote on Thursday.

The vote will take place the day before the February 24 anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The US and its allies are hoping for strong support for the resolution to further isolate Russia.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin should silence his weapons and withdraw his troops from Ukraine.

“We all know that the longer this war goes on, the more the Ukrainian people will suffer," she said.

"The more the world, especially countries in the Middle East and Africa that rely on Ukraine's grain, will suffer.

“A strong vote also sends the message to Russia that they need to sit at the negotiating table.”

A UN General Assembly resolution on March 2 last year condemned Russia’s invasion and demanded it withdrew its troops.

In all, 141 countries supported the resolution, five nations voted against and 35 nations abstained. The resolution required support from two thirds of the assembly to pass.

On March 24, 140 states voted to demand civilian protection and humanitarian access in Ukraine.

Then on October 12, 143 countries voted to condemn Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four partially occupied regions in Ukraine.

The latest text was drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its partners. It reaffirms that no territorial acquisition “resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognised as legal".

It also urges countries to work together to address the global effect of the war, including on food security, energy, finance, the environment and nuclear security and safety.

The resolution also demands a "cessation of hostilities" and the withdrawal of Russia’s military forces from Ukrainian territory “within its internationally recognised borders".

A European diplomat at the UN said on Friday that the choice of words “cessation of hostilities” rather than a “ceasefire” was intentional.

The diplomat said it provided “better guarantees” that this would be a step towards a sustainable end to fighting and “lay the ground for a diplomatic solution".

“We feel that the term is one that is actually stronger," he said. “Ceasefire could be a lull in the hostilities that allows one side to reorganise itself."

On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, confirmed that the civilian death toll had passed 8,000. Mr Turk condemned the war as “senseless”.

The Security Council will mark the one-year Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 with a ministerial meeting.

Updated: February 21, 2023, 10:04 PM