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UN Rejects Russia’s Request For A Secret Ballot On Ukraine

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The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) rejected Russia’s request to hold secret voting on whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine.

The 193-member assembly voted, with 107 voting in favor of a public vote over a secret ballot. Thus, it would hold a public vote on a draft resolution that condemns Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation.” According to the assembly, the vote on the resolution would most probably be on Wednesday or Thursday.

13 member countries rejected the idea of holding a public vote on the draft resolution. 39 countries refused to vote, whereas only two countries–Russia and China–did not participate.

 Vassily Nebenzia
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia

Russia noted that persuasion by Western countries would make “it very difficult if positions are expressed publicly.” In Monday’s meeting, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia objected to the push to condemn the country. “What does this have to do with peace and security or trying to settle conflicts?”, he questioned. “Yet one more step towards division and escalation, which I’m sure is not something the absolute majority of states in this room need,” he further clarified.

Soon after the UNGA confirmed it would hold a public vote on the draft resolution, Russia persuaded the intergovernmental organization to reconsider the issue, however, it failed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had, later last month, proclaimed the occupation of four regions—Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the southern part—after conducting referendums in the regions. The move was outright rejected by Western nations as illegal and coercive.

The draft U.N. General Assembly resolution urges states to not recognize Russia’s actions and reinstate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Russia strikes again

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s UN Ambassador, called on countries to defend the principles of the founding U.N. Charter.

He told the Assembly, “A trail of blood is left behind the Russian delegation when it enters the General Assembly, and the hall is filled up with the smell of smoldering human flesh. That’s what we have tolerated in Syria. That’s what is happening today in Ukraine.”

On Monday, Russia attacked Ukraine with cruise missiles. The United States termed the act “horrific strikes” which killed many civilians and raged with massive air attacks that started more than seven months ago.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized on the need to term Putin’s actions “completely unacceptable” to the international community earlier on Monday.

“Now is the time to speak out in support of Ukraine; it is not the time for abstentions, placating words, or equivocations under claims of neutrality. The core principles of the U.N. Charter are at stake,” Blinken said in a statement.

The 15-member Security Council rejected a similar proposal last month due to Russia’s veto. After nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly censured Moscow and demanded that it withdraw its soldiers within a week of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it has been attempting to lessen its international isolation.

The actions at the UN are a reflection of what took place in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Russia had vetoed a draught resolution that rejected a vote on the status of Crimea and urged nations not to recognize it.

Following that, the General Assembly passed a resolution invalidating the referendum with 100 votes in favor, 11 votes against, and 58 official abstentions. Twenty-one countries chose not to participate.

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