The U.N. General Assembly met Wednesday in New York for an emergency session to discuss resolutions to the U.N. Charter calling for a cease-fire in Ukraine and for Russia to leave the nation it invaded. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.N. General Assembly gathered in New York Wednesday for an emergency session to discuss resolutions to the U.N. Charter that would call for a cease-fire in Ukraine and for Russia to leave the country.
The meeting is expected to last late into the week, with most member nations voicing their support for the draft resolution. The resolution calls for an immediate cease-fire, accountability by Russia for its alleged crimes in Ukraine, and for Russia to immediately leave Ukraine.
The emergency session comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
"Let this anniversary and the anguish of millions before our eyes over the last year serve as a reminder to all of us here in this hall that military solutions will not end this war," Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said.
"Too many lives, livelihoods, families, and communities have been lost. Russia can end its aggression and the war it has unleashed. Russia must end this hell of bloodshed."
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned Russia's invasion as "illegal" and "unprovoked."
"Colleagues, this vote will go down in history," she said. "On the one-year anniversary of this conflict, we will see where the nations of the world stand on the matter of peace in Ukraine."
The U.N. estimates more than 20,000 non-combatants have been killed in Ukraine and another 13,000 have been injured.
Gilad Menashe, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., voiced support for Ukraine while criticizing other nations' in aiding Russia, saying it is time for the international community to take action against Iran before it becomes a fully nuclear-capable threat to the Middle East and the world. He cited the use of Iranian military equipment against Ukraine as an indication of the threat it poses.
"Israel remains steadfast in continuing our support [for Ukraine] and even expanding it," Menashe said.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer earlier this month over allegedly supplying Russia with aerial support.
Australian Ambassador Mitch Fifield said that the effects of Russia's invasion have created crises beyond Ukraine's border. Chief among them is the destabilizing effect the war has had on the world economy. He said his delegation supports the resolution because it sends several strong messages.
"We will not accept a situation where larger countries determine the fate of smaller countries," he said. "It shows President [Vladimir] Putin that Russia's prolonged war impacts all nations and all people."
Most ambassadors voiced their support for demanding that Russia end its invasion, but not all. Bassam Sabbagh, ambassador for the Syrian Arab Republic, said the actions of western nations in their support of Ukraine amount to "political hypocrisy." Sabbagh did not name specific member nations, but he cited western nations that have provided a "relentless flow of all types of arsenals and weapons into Ukraine."
Sabbagh said these same nations want to see a violent war in Europe. He said Syria rejects the resolution.
"Paradoxically, those same countries threaten and intimidate other countries' to prevent them from standing by the Russian Federation and its legitimate defense of its security and its direct borders," Sabbagh said.
While Sabbagh positioned the resolution as a "biased" act against Russia, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the resolution is only about taking a stand against the Kremlin.
"This is about saying to the invader, to the aggressor, that he cannot use the law of force in order to impose its will," he said. "That is what the resolution is about: a call to the international community that should be echoed in the Kremlin in order to understand that they are losing this war militarily, they are losing this war morally and politically."