The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Thursday blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and urging an immediate cease-fire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools, and hospitals critical to their survival.
There was loud applause in the assembly chamber as the result of the vote was announced: 140-5 with only Belarus, Syria, North Korea, and Eritrea joining Russia in opposing the measure. There were 38 abstentions, including Russian ally China, India, South Africa, Iran, and Cuba.
The resolution, introduced by Ukraine, deplores the “dire humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s aggression which it says is “on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades.” It deplores Russia’s shelling, airstrikes and “besiegement” of densely populated cities, including the southern city of Mariupol, and demands unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
The vote was almost exactly the same as for the March 2 resolution the assembly adopted demanding an immediate Russian cease-fire, withdrawal of all its forces and protection for all civilians and infrastructure indispensable to their survival. That vote was 141-5 with 35 abstentions.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do have clout in reflecting international opinion.
The General Assembly also had before it a rival South African resolution which didn’t mention Russia. It was to be considered after the adoption of the Ukrainian-backed resolution, and South Africa sought a vote.
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