Ukraine – Any threat to use nuclear weapons should be universally condemned

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The door for a diplomatic solution to end the fighting between Russia and Ukraine must be kept open, and any threat to use nuclear weapons, “universally condemned”, said the President of the UN General Assembly on Monday.

Csaba Kőrösi was speaking at the latest meeting of the Emergency Special Session of the world’s most representative body, on the war in Ukraine, triggered by Russia’s invasion of 24 February, which was taking place in light of Russia’s use of the veto in the Security Council on 30 September.

That resolution condemned the recent annexation by Russia of four regions of Ukraine, which Mr. Kőrösi said had been plainly illegal.

The Assembly resolution to be voted on later in the week, states the so-called referendums that were held leading up to the “attempted illegal annexation” also contravened international law.

“When it becomes a daily routine to watch images of destroyed cities and scattered bodies, we lose our humanity”, he said. “We must find a political solution based on the UN Charter and the international law.”

He cited the General Assembly resolution adopted on 2 March, calling on Russian troops to withdraw from Ukrainian territory: “What is the alternative? A world without shared rules. A world without peace. A world without future.”

Reflecting one positive development, he praised the leadership of UN Secretary-General António Guterres of the Black Sea Grain Initiative which has freed up some six million metric tonnes of grain so far, saying “we shall act together” to fully implement the lifesaving supply of food from Ukrainian ports.

He said it was imperative to secure its renewal, beyond the current timeline of mid-November.

The General Assembly meeting began with a procedural vote on a measure which Russia had flagged, proposing that the Ukrainian draft resolution being debated, be voted on by secret ballot, not through an open recorded vote.

The Albanian proposal received 107 votes in favour, with 13 against, and 39 abstentions, with the country’s representative arguing that it would establish a “dangerous precedent” if such a substantive issue of peace and security was voted upon without each country making its view public.

Speaking first at the emergency meeting, where 66 countries are scheduled to speak from the podium of the UN General Assembly Hall in New York, Ukraine’s ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, told delegates that his day had begun 14 hours earlier, with news that his immediate family had been among those under attack back at home, from large-scale airstrikes launched by Russia, in retaliation for the attack on the Crimea land bridge, which President Vladimir Putin has described as a “terrorist” attack by Ukrainian special forces.

He said he had already lost family members to Russian aggression, adding that around 84 missiles and around two dozen drones had deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure during Monday’s multiple attacks on Ukrainian cities, including schools, universities and museums.

“The entire world has once again, seen the true face of the terrorist State that kills our people. Suffering defeats of the battlefield, Russia takes it out on the peaceful residents of Ukrainian cities”.

He said that voting for the draft resolution, would be a vote for the UN Charter, “for each country, for each of our citizens, for your families, for our children – a vote for justice”.

Replying for Russia, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzya said that the Albanian resolution which confirmed that a recorded vote would take place following debate, had been a violation of the rules of procedure, and an “unprecedented manipulation”.

He said Russia had been deprived of the ability to present its case, by the Assembly President himself. Russia was simply looking for fair compromise he said, but instead, “such cynicism, confrontation and dangerous polarisation as today, we have never seen in the history of the UN.”

He said all aspects of the Ukraine crisis that did not suit Western powers, had been conveniently overlooked, and what he called the “Western camp” had no real interest in peace, ignoring Russia’s proposals in the Security Council.

“As we hear from their statements, peace in Ukraine is not something they need in principle”, and part of the NATO alliance’s plan to at least severely undermine Russia.

“Ukraine was chosen by these countries for that purpose, was brought under their control and today is a platform for the testing of NATO weaponry and for combat against Russia, using other people”, he said.

He accused Ukraine of an “outrageous” act of terrorism in “sabotaging” Russia’s bridge to Crimea. He said Russia could not stand by and let Ukraine act “with impunity”.

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