At UN, Ukraine reports Russian soldier’s latest text

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Russian-Ukrainian crisis: UN Secretary General says fighting in Ukraine must end.

The United Nations:

Faced with growing global isolation, Russia faced urgent calls on Monday to end its “unprovoked” and “unwarranted” assault on Ukraine as the 193-member United Nations General Assembly held an extraordinary debate on the invasion of the former Soviet state.

During the rare emergency special session, the 11th the Assembly has held in its history, Russia defended its decision to invade its neighbor as nation after nation called for peace from the rostrum.

On the sidelines, the US said it was expelling 12 “intelligence officers” from the Russian UN mission from the country for “engaging in espionage activities that harm our national security”.

In the General Assembly Hall, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pleaded: “The fighting in Ukraine must stop. Enough is enough.

Representatives from more than 100 countries are expected to speak for three days as the world body decides whether it will back a resolution demanding that Russia immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

A vote is expected on Wednesday, and it must reach a two-thirds threshold to pass. The resolution is not binding but will serve as a marker of Russia’s isolation.

Its authors hope they can exceed 100 votes in favor, even if countries such as Syria, China, Cuba and India should either support Russia or abstain.

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

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

“Hostilities were initiated by Ukraine against its own residents,” he said during his remarks.

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

“If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive. Do not have any illusions,” said Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya.

‘I’m afraid’

During an emotional speech, Kyslytsya held up footage of what he said were a Russian soldier’s last text messages to his mother before he was killed.

“Mom, I’m in Ukraine. I’m scared,” Kyslytsya said as she read the messages. “They call us fascists. Mom, it’s so hard.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Moscow pleaded “self-defence” under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

But this was flatly rejected by Western countries and the United Nations itself. They accuse Moscow of violating Article 2 of the Charter, which requires 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 have built together must be defended”, she added. “Because if not, who could be next?”

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

The decision to hold the emergency session was triggered by Russia using its veto on Friday to block a Security Council resolution along the same lines.

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

“Hostile act”

There is no veto power in the General Assembly, which held a similar vote in 2014 condemning Russia’s takeover of Crimea and received 100 votes in favor.

The Security Council held a separate emergency meeting on Monday on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has warned that the fighting is expected to displace four million people.

Nebenzia announced the news of the 12 expelled diplomats at a press conference, saying he had just learned that the dozen had been ordered to leave the United States by March 7.

A US spokeswoman said the decision had been “in development for several months”, implying it was not directly related to the war.

In response, Moscow called the deportations a “hostile act”.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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