The ayes have it
United Nations votes 143-5 to condemn Russia's 'attempted illegal annexation' of Ukraine provinces
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to condemn Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four provinces in Ukraine and declare that Moscow's territorial claims "have no validity under international law and do not form the basis for any alternation of the status of these regions of Ukraine." Only Russia and four other countries — Syria, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Belarus — voted against the resolution, while 143 countries voted yes and 35 abstained.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the 143 nations that voted yes.
The U.S. and European Union lobbied in favor of the proposal, while Russia had pushed unsuccessfully for a secret ballot. "A key issue for the resolution's Western backers was how many countries would support it, and the result went beyond their most optimistic expectations," with "surprise" yes votes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil, The Associated Press reports. "It was the strongest support from the General Assembly for Ukraine and against Russia of the four resolutions it has approved since Russian troops invaded Ukraine Feb. 24."
A 2014 resolution affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity after Russia's annexation of Crimea passed 100 to 11, with 58 abstentions.
"The stakes of this conflict are clear to all — and the world has sent a clear message in response: Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map," President Biden said in a statement. "Nearly eight months into this war, the world has just demonstrated that it is more united, and more determined than ever to hold Russia accountable for its violations."
In fact, AP notes, "the more powerful Security Council, whose resolutions are legally binding, has been stymied on taking action on Ukraine because of Russia's veto power," while the veto-free General Assembly's four pro-Ukraine votes "reflect world opinion but are not legally binding." On a symbolic level, Western analysts and envoys agreed, this was an embarrassing defeat for Russia.
The Kremlin, of course, has bigger problems than global humiliation.