Russia fails to ‘undermine’ UN’s unified efforts in Ukraine, ambassador says

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It has been two humiliating days for Russia at the United Nations. On Thursday, a vote on a humanitarian draft resolution on Ukraine in the General Assembly sponsored by South Africa failed on a matter of procedure. 

While not authored by Russia, Ukraine’s ambassador called the South African effort the “twin brother” of Russia’s failed text that only received the support of China at a vote Wednesday at the U.N. Security Council.

Thursday’s United Nations General Assembly votes were originally intended for a Ukraine-sponsored humanitarian resolution that, among other things, condemned Russia’s invasion and called for unhindered humanitarian assistance to those in need in Ukraine, including the protection of civilians and the respect of human rights. 

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The other draft resolution was sponsored by South Africa. While it too called for unfettered humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire, it made no mention of Russia being an aggressor.

Ukraine’s resolution was co-sponsored by about sixty other countries, including the U.S., U.K. and France and overwhelmingly got the support of 140 members of the General Assembly. Only Russia, Syria, Belarus, Syria, and North Korea voted against it, with 38 countries abstaining.  

Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya holds up what he says is the South African-sponsored Ukraine humanitarian U.N. General Assembly draft resolution that was never voted on Thursday due to a procedural challenge. Kyslytsya held it up to illustrate how similar it was to Russia’s Security Council humanitarian draft resolution that failed Wednesday.

Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya holds up what he says is the South African-sponsored Ukraine humanitarian U.N. General Assembly draft resolution that was never voted on Thursday due to a procedural challenge. Kyslytsya held it up to illustrate how similar it was to Russia’s Security Council humanitarian draft resolution that failed Wednesday.
(UNTV)

While some observers seemed to be caught by surprise by South Africa’s decision to put up its text for a vote, it was only last week that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told his country’s parliament that NATO should be blamed for provoking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also refused to condemn Russia for its aggression.  

On Wednesday, in a call with his South African counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “underscored the need for a unified response to Putin’s unprovoked war of choice and the impacts on energy and food security in Africa,” according to a State Department press release.

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It was not clear if the two discussed South Africa’s resolution. 

After the General Assembly cheered the passage of the Ukrainian resolution and prepared to vote on South Africa’s text, Ukraine’s United Nations Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsva called for a point of order. 

He said the rules of procedure had not been properly followed by South Africa and that a vote on whether to even have a vote on it should be considered. His point of order was accepted. 

In his speech, Kyslytsva complained that South Africa had not even consulted with Ukraine on its text. Holding up the text, with similarities to the failed Russian Security Council draft underlined in red, he noted, “It is a text promoted unilaterally by one country prompted by another country that has not even cared to hide it.”

Kyslytsva called on members to vote together and not allow a vote on the South African draft.

“It’s a fresh paint on the molding rotten structure of the assembly where the paint isn’t actually paint, but the blood of Ukrainian children, women and defenders,” Kyslytsva said. “Let’s spare the assembly from this shame. Let’s prove that the assembly is still a solid structure, and we are the United Nations that have been wise enough to avert imminent disaster.”  

A majority of the General Assembly heard his call and voted not to allow the South African draft to go forward.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. 

United States Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. 
(Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Following the vote, United States U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield was asked about the South African resolution.

“I can’t explain South Africa’s reasoning for presenting its own resolution,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters. “You have to ask the South Africans why they thought it was necessary to submit a competing resolution.

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“Together, a strong majority of U.N. member states made clear that Russia – Russia – bears sole responsibility for the grave humanitarian crisis and violence in Ukraine. Together, we called for the protection of all civilians fleeing the conflict and for steps to mitigate the increase in food insecurity caused by this senseless war. And together, we reaffirmed the U.N. charter.”   

While the Security Council has failed in any actions against Russia, the United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly passed two resolutions in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, something Thomas-Greenfield noted in her remarks to the media. 

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“Russia has tried and failed — in the U.N. Security Council and in partnership with others here in the General Assembly — to undermine Ukraine at every turn,” she said. “But this week, once again, the United States and other nations across the globe have stood together in solidarity with Ukraine to hold Russia accountable.”

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report. 

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