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Well over 100 UN member states voted to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. China abstained from the vote rather than backing Moscow, only five countries voted against.
The UN General Assembly voted to demand Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine by a large majority on Wednesday following its invasion of the country that began six days ago.
With 141 UN member states, out of a total of 193, backing the resolution, Moscow is finding itself increasingly isolated on the world stage.
Ahead of the vote, those behind the resolution had been hoping for at least 100 votes in favor, making the final figure quite unexpected.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock thanked those member states who voted for the resolution for this "historical result." She wrote on Twitter that the vote made clear "when our peaceful order is under attack, we stand together."
Key member states such as China and India, who have yet to explicitly condemn the invasion themselves, abstained, along with 33 others. Only five countries voted against: Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea.
The General Assembly resolution "demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and to refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any UN member state."
The text passed by the assembly also expressed "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."
Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, responded to the vote saying: "This document will not allow us to stop military activities."
Instead, he argued, it would encourage "radical forces" and "nationalists" in Kyiv.
Moscow has repeatedly referred to the democratically elected government of Ukraine as extremists, saying part of its campaign is to "de-nazify" the country, that is, to remove the government, including its Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The resolution was first presented to the assembly in an emergency meeting on Monday — only the 11th time such a meeting has been called in the UN's 77-year history. The international appeal is not legally binding, but the session was called after a similar resolution was halted by a Russian veto at the more powerful UN Security Council late last week.
"They have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist," Ukraine's ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly ahead of the vote. "It's already clear that the goal of Russia is not an occupation only. It is genocide."
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of increasing "brutality."
"We've seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield that includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are banned under the Geneva Convention," she said.
Originally the text of the resolution said that the assembly "condemns" the invasion, but this was changed several times to broaden its appeal. In the end the assembly said it "deplores in the strongest terms the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine."
But the resolution did clarify that the UN was "condemning" Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to put his country's nuclear forces on alert.
ab/msh (dpa, AFP)