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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Guterres warns ‘no time to lose’ for ending Ukraine invasion

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Moscow's action "an affront to our collective conscience".

United Nations:

As the General Assembly met for an emergency session with an expected vote on a resolution condemning Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Moscow’s action “an affront to our collective conscience”.

“There’s not a moment to lose for ending the war,” he said on Wednesday as the invasion approached its one-year mark.

“The possible consequences of a spiralling conflict are a clear and present danger.”

“The war is also fanning regional instability and fueling global tensions and divisions, while diverting attention and resources from other crises and pressing global issues,” he said outlining the invasion’s fallout on the global economy, the food crisis affecting the global south and the nuclear danger.

Wednesday’s meeting was a continuation of the emergency session convened last year because the Security Council cannot overcome Russia’s veto to act on ending the war.

Ukraine and its allies are duelling with Russia and its supporters over what will be the Assembly’s sixth resolution on the war.

Ukraine’s resolution with over 65 co-sponsors would deplore Moscow’s invasion and demand an immediate end to the war, Russia’s withdrawal from territories it has seized and a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace”.

It would also demand the prosecution of crimes and justice for victims.

Belarus, acting on behalf of Russia and its supporters, has proposed amendments to the resolution that would gut it of references to Moscow’s aggression and invasion and the demand for it to withdraw from occupied territories, while calling instead for an end to arms supply to Ukraine by other countries.

Both sides have mounted an intensive campaign on the resolution.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, spoke by phone with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval ahead of the Assembly’s emergency session to seek New Delhi’s support for the resolution against Russia’s invasion.

India did not speak on Wednesday and it has abstained on all substantive resolutions on Ukraine.

Assembly resolutions cannot be vetoed — as Russia has done in the Security Council — but they are not binding and only project a sense of moral authority.

Five similar resolutions have been adopted by the Assembly since the invasion began on February 24, 2022, to no effect.

One adopted In October got 143 votes, with five against it and 35 abstentions including India’s in the 193-member Assembly.

With that level of support, the Belarus amendments have virtually no chance of passing.

General Assembly President Csaba Korosi demanded, “Russia must end this hell of bloodshed”.

He also held out hope for an end to the war: “This war will come to an end. And the time of reconstruction, reconciliation and transformation will come. We know it will not be easy. We know the scars are deep but the shared destiny of humanity will certainly help nations currently facing each other in the trenches.”

Switching to Russian from English, he spoke directly to the people of Russia: “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.”

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “We have no choice but to keep fighting for our survival, as any of you would. A year after, against all odds, Ukraine is effectively defending itself against a much stronger enemy and I appeal to you: this is a decisive moment to show support, unity, and solidarity. This is the moment to prove that you stand for the UN Charter.”

Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenziz accused the west of fueling the war.

“It’s not Ukraine that is fighting Russia, but rather it is a collective West,” he said.

Its “goal is to inflict strategic defeat on my country”, he said.

US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the vote on the resolution “will go down in history”.

“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,” she said. IANS

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