24th February, 2023
By Cecilia Ologunagba
Nigeria and 140 Member States on Thursday demanded Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine, marking the one-year anniversary of the war with a call for a “just and lasting” peace.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ukraine got strong backing in a non-binding vote that saw 141 of the 193 UN members in support, including Nigeria.
Seven members opposed and 32, including China and India abstaining at the UN General Assembly emergency special session, aimed at restoring peace.
Coming on the eve of the first anniversary of the brutal war, support for Kyiv was little-changed from that of last October when 143 countries voted to condemn Russia’s declared annexation of four Ukraine regions.
“Today, United Nations General Assembly has just spoken very clear,” said European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
“This vote shows that the international community stands with Ukraine.”
The vote came after two days of debate during which Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the international community to choose “between good and evil.”
The resolution reaffirmed support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity,” rejecting any Russian claims to the parts of the country it occupies.
It also demanded “that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders,” and called “for a cessation of hostilities.”
Earlier, General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said that for almost a full year, the world body, UN Secretary-General, and international community had been consistent and vocal in calls to end this war, and to adhere to the UN Charter and international law.
“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.
“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,’’ he said.
The General Assembly eleventh emergency special session resumed on Wednesday with the introduction of a new draft resolution and two proposed amendments.
Also speaking, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the one-year mark stands as a “grim milestone”, and the impact is being felt far beyond Ukraine.
He called for full support of the recent UN launch of a $5.6 billion dollars humanitarian appeal for the people of Ukraine.
“While prospects may look bleak today, we know that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the UN Charter and international law,.
“The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be. We don’t have a moment to lose,’’ he said.
He called on the parties and the international community to recommit to the values, principles, and purposes of the UN Charter.
Upholding and preserving “our constitution for ‘we the peoples’ must be the common interest of all Member States,” he said.
“There is no alternative.”