The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, an action that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia on the world stage. Seven days into Russia’s invasion, the U.N. said more than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine in a mounting refugee crisis on the European continent, while the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency warned that the fighting poses a danger to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.
The resolution, which was supported by 141 of the assembly’s 193 members, passed in a rare emergency session called by the U.N. Security Council as Ukrainian forces battled to defend the port of Kherson in the face of air strikes and a devastating bombardment that forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate. The last time the Security Council convened an emergency session of the General Assembly was in 1982, according to the U.N. website.
While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight, with Wednesday’s vote representing a symbolic victory for Ukraine and increasing Moscow’s international isolation. Even Russia’s traditional ally Serbia voted against it. Not all members voted, but there were five notable detractors: Russia was joined by Belarus, which has served as a launching pad for Russian invasion forces. Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria also voted against the resolution. Thirty-five members, including China, abstained.
The 5 countries who voted against condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine included Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria. China and Pakistan were 2 of the 35 countries that abstained. pic.twitter.com/CODHtGnAm6
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 2, 2022
“As 141 member states of the United Nations know, more is at stake even than the conflict in Ukraine itself. This is a threat to the security of Europe and the entire rules-based order,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters after the vote.
Blinken: "This is President Putin's war. This isn't the Russian people's war. It's becoming clearer by the day that the Russian people oppose it." pic.twitter.com/gzxbU3L3yO
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 2, 2022
Meanwhile, Russia pounded Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city with about 1.5 million people, in another round of aerial attacks that shattered buildings and lit up the skyline with balls of fire. At least 21 people were killed and 112 injured over the past day, the Associated Press reported.