Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Russia envoy defends Ukraine war at UN General Assembly



Russia envoy defends Ukraine war at UN General Assembly

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia speaks during the Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York City on Monday. AFP

Russia envoy defends Ukraine war at UN General Assembly

Encountering deepening global isolation, Russia faced urgent calls on February 28 to end its “unprovoked” and “unjustified” assault on Ukraine as the UN General Assembly’s 193 members held an extraordinary debate on the military offensive in the ex-Soviet state.

During the rare emergency special session, just the 11th the Assembly has held in its history, Russia defended its decision to invade its neighbour as nation after nation urged peace from the podium.

On the sidelines, the US said it was expelling from the country 12 “intelligence operatives” at Russia’s UN mission for “engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security”.

Inside the General Assembly hall, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres pleaded: “The fighting in Ukraine must stop. Enough is enough.”

Representatives of more than 100 countries are expected to speak over three days as the global body decides if it will support a resolution that demands Russia immediately withdraws its troops from Ukraine.

A vote is expected on March 2, and it must reach a two-thirds threshold to pass. The resolution is non-binding but will serve as a marker of how isolated Russia is.

Its authors hope they may exceed 100 votes in favour – though countries including Syria, China, Cuba and India are expected to either support Russia or abstain.

“We do not feel isolated,” Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters.

He reiterated Moscow’s stance, flatly rejected by Kyiv and its Western allies that its military operation was launched to protect residents of breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

“The hostilities were unleashed by Ukraine against its own residents,” he said during his address.

The vote is also being seen as a barometer of democracy in a world where autocratic sentiment has been on the rise, diplomats said, pointing to such regimes in Myanmar, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Nicaragua – and Russia.

“If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive. Have no illusions,” said Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya.

During an emotional speech, Kyslytsya held up images of what he said were the final text messages from a Russian soldier to his mother before he was killed.

“Mama, I’m in Ukraine. I’m afraid,” Kyslytsya said, reading the messages. “They call us fascists. Mama, this is so hard.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale offensive in Ukraine on February 24. Moscow has pleaded “self-defence” under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

But that has been roundly rejected by Western countries and the UN itself. They accuse Moscow of violating Article 2 of the Charter, requiring members to refrain from the threat or use of force to resolve a crisis.

Addressing the General Assembly, British ambassador Barbara Woodward said the war was “unprovoked, unjustified”.

The resolution would be “a message to the world: that the rules we built together must be defended,” she added. “Because otherwise, who might be next?”

China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun warned that “nothing can be gained from starting off a new Cold War”, but did not indicate how Beijing would vote.

The move to hold the emergency session was sparked by Russia using its veto on February 25 to block a similarly-worded Security Council resolution.

Council members can turn to the General Assembly if the five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – fail to agree to act together to maintain peace.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10