UNGA adopts resolution censuring Russia and demanding withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine; Pakistan abstains

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 02 (APP):The United Nations General Assembly Wednesday adopted a resolution, by a big majority, that deplores Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine” and demanding that its troops stop fighting and withdraw.

The vote, after three days of debate in the emergency special session of the 193-member General Assembly, was 141 in favour to 5 against, with 35 abstention, including that of Pakistan. A loud applause rang out in the iconic hall of the General Assembly as soon as the result of the vote flashed on the screen.

UNGA adopts resolution censuring Russia and demanding withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine; Pakistan abstains

The Assembly acted amid several moves to bring an end to the conflict through diplomatic means. In this regard, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his recent visit to Moscow, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi followed up with his counterparts from Russia and Ukraine in support of efforts aimed at promoting a cessation of hostilities and revival of peace negotiations between the parties in conflict.

Ahead of the vote, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram also told the delegates that the Pakistani leader has regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine, and had hoped that diplomacy could avert military conflict.

“We have since repeatedly stressed the need for de-escalation, renewed negotiations, sustained dialogue, and continuous diplomacy,” he said.

Wednesday’s resolution “demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” It also expresses “grave concern at reports of attacks on civilian facilities such as residences, schools, and hospitals, and of civilian casualties, including women, older persons, persons with disabilities, and children.”

Last week, Russia vetoed a similar resolution at the 15-member Security Council. No other nation opposed it, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained. Eleven nations supported it. Russia’s vote led to the convening of the special session of the General Assembly where no nation has vote power.

Russian diplomats, including Vassily Nebenzia, the country’s ambassador to the U.N., have called the attacks against Ukraine a “special military operation” intended to defend two separatist regions.

Russia has destroyed critical infrastructure, including drinking water and gas for millions of people and appeared to be preparing to increase the brutality of its campaign against Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a speech to the General Assembly.

“This is an extraordinary moment,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said. “Now, at more than any other point in recent history, the United Nations is being challenged,” she said and made a plea: “Vote yes if you believe UN member states – including your own – have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for its actions.”

Washington has imposed several rounds of sanctions since Russia’s forces intervened in Ukraine.

Russia’s Ambassador Nebenzia denied that Moscow was targeting civilians and warned that the adoption of the resolution might spur further escalation.