The UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday evening, hours after diplomats from dozens of countries addressed the General Assembly to deplore Russia’s actions as fears of war are growing.
Citing the “imminent threat of a Russian offensive”, Ukraine called for the session after Russia’s statement that “rebels” in eastern Ukraine had requested military assistance from Moscow.
Russia holds this month’s rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the extraordinary meeting comes two days after another emergency session where there was no support for Russia’s decision to recognize two regions of Ukraine as independent and to send Russian troops there for “peacekeeping”, according to Vladimir Putin’s government.
Security Council diplomats are finalizing a draft resolution that would declare Russia in violation of the United Nations Charter, international law and a 2015 Council resolution on Ukraine, a diplomat said, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. The resolution would urge Russia to comply immediately, according to this diplomat.
At the General Assembly held a few hours earlier on Wednesday, Russia and its ally Syria defended Moscow’s measures. However, China, which usually takes Russia’s side at the UN, has championed the world body’s longstanding principle of respecting countries’ sovereignty and internationally recognized borders, without mentioning Russia by name. .
Meeting a day after Western powers and other countries imposed new sanctions on Russia, the 193-member General Assembly took no collective action. However, comments from nearly 70 countries appeared to give off a more unanimous global sentiment since the crisis escalated this week.
Turkey, Japan and Guatemala condemned Russia’s adherence to the independence claims of breakaway regions or expressed support for Ukraine.
“Ukraine, you are not alone,” said Bulgarian Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged countries to “stay away”.
“There is no middle ground here. Calling on both sides to de-escalate just lets Russia pass. Russia is the aggressor here,” she said.
Mme Thomas-Greenfield warned that the confrontation could lead to a refugee crisis, estimating that five million people could be displaced. She also warned of a possible rise in food prices in developing countries where Ukraine supplies wheat.
In a message broadcast to Russians, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia portrayed his country as casting the lot for those besieged in the areas in question. Russia claims that Ukraine engages in violence and oppression, which Ukraine denies.
“We urge you today to focus on Kyiv,” Nebenzia said.
Syria has accused the West of using the assembly to pressure Moscow.
“The Ukrainian crisis was created by Western states, led by the United States, to divide the population and undermine Russian security,” Ambassador Bassam al-Sabbagh said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba implored countries to use tough economic sanctions, strong messages and “active diplomacy” to roll back Russia. A lackluster response would not only undermine Ukraine, but also the concept of international law and global security, he warned.
“We must use this last chance to act and stop Russia where it is,” Kuleba said.
Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and pro-Russian rebels have been fighting from Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. More than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
After weeks of rising tensions as Moscow mustered more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized the independence of the two regions and ordered Russian forces to send what they needed there. called “peacekeepers”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres disputed this, saying they are troops entering another country without its consent.
“Our world is in danger,” Mr. Guterres told the assembly.