UN blames Russia for Ukraine humanitarian crisis, urges aid
United Nations: The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution blaming Russia for humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and urging an immediate cease-fire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools and hospitals critical to their survival.
The vote Thursday on the resolution was 140-5 with only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea joining Russia in opposing the measure. There were 38 abstentions, including China.
The resolution deplores the dire humanitarian consequences of Russia’s aggression which it says is on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades . It deplores Russia’s shelling, airstrikes and besiegement of densely populated cities, including the southern city of Mariupol, and demands unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
The vote was almost exactly the same as on the March 2 resolution the assembly adopted demanding an immediate Russian cease-fire and withdrawal of troops. It demands protection for all civilians and infrastructure indispensable to their survival. That vote was 141-5 with 35 abstentions.
Russia has denounced the resolution as anti-Russian and accuses its supporters of not really being concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground, saying they want to politicise aid.
The vote follows the Security Council’s overwhelming defeat on Wednesday of a Russian resolution that would have acknowledged Ukraine’s growing humanitarian needs — but without mentioning Russia’s invasion that has left millions of Ukrainians in desperate need of food, water and shelter.
The council acted few hours after the General Assembly started considering a separate resolution titled Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine, which was drafted by Ukraine and two dozen other countries from all parts of the world.
There were over 70 scheduled speakers and only 62 were able to deliver their remarks, so the final speeches and vote were postponed until Thursday.
The assembly will also consider a rival South African resolution, which doesn’t mention Russia and is similar to the Russian resolution rejected by the Security Council.
The vote on the Russian resolution reflected Moscow’s failure to get widespread backing for its military offensive in Ukraine, which marks its one-month anniversary Thursday.
To be adopted, Russia needed a minimum of nine yes votes in the 15-member Security Council and no veto by one of the four other permanent members the US, Britain, France and China. But Russia got support only from its ally China, with the 13 other council members abstaining.
Britain’s UN ambassador, Barbara Woodward, called Russia’s draft a cynical effort to exploit the crisis which they have caused and told reporters that Russia has consistently misplayed its hand here, and seriously underestimated the consequences of what it’s done and the international perception of what it’s done.
Before and after the vote, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia and US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield argued about Russia’s offensive and its decision to even draft a humanitarian resolution.
Nebenzia told the council that Russia’s resolution, like other humanitarian resolution, is not politicised .
Thomas-Greenfield countered that Russia was attempting to use this council to provide cover for its brutal actions.
Russia does not care about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions,” she said.
If they cared, they would stop fighting. Russia is the aggressor, the attacker, the invader, the sole party in Ukraine engaged in a campaign of brutality against the people of Ukraine, and they want us to pass a resolution that does not acknowledge their culpability.
China’s vote Wednesday marked the first time it supported a Russian draft on Ukraine since the Feb 24 invasion. It abstained on a March 2 General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of all Russian forces from its smaller neighbour.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said China’s support for the resolution was to stress its call for the international community to place high importance to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and for the parties to protect the safety of civilians.
Russia introduced its resolution on March 15. A day earlier, France and Mexico decided to move their proposed humanitarian resolution blaming the Russian invasion for the humanitarian crisis out of the Security Council, where it faced a Russian veto, to the 193-member General Assembly where there are no vetoes.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do have clout in reflecting international opinion. (AP)