U.N. to mark one year of Ukraine war with vote to 'go down in history'
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -Marking one year of war, Ukraine and Russia lobbied countries at the United Nations on Wednesday for backing ahead of a vote by the 193-member General Assembly that the United States declared will "go down in history."
"We will see where the nations of the world stand on the matter of peace in Ukraine," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the General Assembly.
The General Assembly appeared set to adopt a resolution on Thursday, put forward by Ukraine and supporters, stressing "the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace" in line with the founding U.N. Charter.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Russia's invasion and said the Charter was "unambiguous," citing from it: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
Ukraine and its supporters hope to deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation by seeking yes votes from nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly to match - if not better - the support received for several resolutions last year.
They argue the war is a simple case of one unprovoked country illegally invading another, while Russia portrays itself as battling a "proxy war" with West, which has been arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Moscow since the invasion.
"The West has ... brazenly ignored our concerns and continue bringing the military infrastructure of NATO closer and closer to our borders," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the General Assembly.
Nebenzia said Moscow "had no other option" but to launch what it has called a "special military operation" on Feb. 24 last year to defend Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and ensure "the safety and security of our country, using military means."
The draft U.N. resolution, which is non-binding, but carries political weight, mirrors a demand the General Assembly made last year for Moscow to withdraw troops and halt the hostilities. Russia has described the text as "unbalanced and anti-Russian" and urged countries to vote no.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters Ukraine was exercising its right to self-defense as enshrined in the U.N. Charter and that "when you are sending weapons to Ukraine, you are helping Ukraine to defend U.N. Charter."
"Russia violated the U.N. Charter by becoming an aggressor," he said at the United Nations. "When you are sending weapons to them, you are helping to destroy the U.N. Charter and everything that the United Nations stand for. It's very simple."
The General Assembly has been the focus for UN action on Ukraine, with the 15-member Security Council paralyzed due to veto power by Russia and the United States along with China, France and Britain.
The Security Council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine in the past year and will again discuss the war on Friday at a ministerial gathering, due to be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Diplomats say Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not scheduled to attend.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Kanishka Singh and David Gregorio)