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UN members condemn Russia's annexations of Ukrainian regions

October 12, 2022

The UN General Assembly has voted 143-5 in favor of condemning Russia's annexation of territory in Ukraine's east and south. The motion garnered the most support of all resolutions condemning Moscow.

People on the streets passing a billboard that reads "our vote -- Russia" in the Luhansk region prior to the so-called referendum on joining the Russian Federation. 23.09.2022.
Four regions held so-called referendums on joining the Russian FederationImage: dpa/AP/picture alliance

The UN General Assembly condemned on Wednesday Russia's declaration that it had annexed four Ukrainian regions.

The motion passed with 143 countries voting in favor and only 5 against.

A further 35 countries abstained from the ballot.

Most conclusive resolution condemning Moscow

Of four General Assembly resolutions criticizing Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, this outcome was the most conclusive.

A Russian bid for the ballot to be held as a secret vote failed. Moscow had argued that Western lobbying made it so that "it may be very difficult if positions are expressed publicly."

Passing censure of Russia through the more influential UN Security Council has been almost impossible given that Russia is one of the body's five veto powers. 

US diplomatic efforts before the vote had focused on convincing India and South Africa to vote in favor of the resolution. The two countries abstained from the ballot, along with a number of countries such as China and Pakistan.

Eritrea, which had previously supported Russia in General Assembly votes, also abstained. Bangladesh, Iraq and Senegal abstained from a similar vote in March, but voted on Wednesday to condemn Moscow.

Following the announcement that the motion had passed, Germany's foreign ministry tweeted an image of the country-by-country vote tally, captioning it in English with, "That is what being on the wrong side of history looks like. The world stands with #Ukraine at #UNGA."

What does the resolution say?

The resolution "condemns the organization by the Russian Federation of so-called referendums within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine" and the subsequent "attempted illegal annexation" of the four regions.

It calls on UN agencies and international organizations not to recognize any changes to Ukraine's borders. It also demands that Russia "immediately and unconditionally reverse" its decision.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, urged countries to condemn the annexations to send the message that the world "will not tolerate seizing a neighbor's land by force."

"Today it is Russia invading Ukraine. But tomorrow it could be another nation whose territory is violated. It could be you. You could be next. What would you expect from this chamber?" she said. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south and Donetsk and Luhansk in the east late in September following what Kyiv and its allies called "sham" referendums.

sdi/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)