UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution Monday calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine, including paying reparations for the widespread damage caused to the country and for Ukrainians killed and wounded during the war.
The vote of the 193 members of the body was 94 in favor to 14 against, with 73 abstentions. The result was close to the lowest level of support for any of the five resolutions the General Assembly has adopted on Ukraine since the start of the invasion on February 24.RELATED
The resolution recognizes the need to establish “an international mechanism for compensation for damages, losses and damages arising from internationally wrongful acts” of Russia against Ukraine.
It recommends that the member countries of the Assembly, in cooperation with Ukraine, form “an international registry” to document claims and information about damages, losses and damages to Ukrainians and the Ukrainian government because of Russia.
Before the vote, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly that “Russia did its best to destroy Ukraine, in a very literal sense.”
He mentioned Russia’s shelling and artillery attacks on cities and towns, “hitting anything from plants and factories, to residential buildings, schools, hospitals and kindergartens,” as well as roads, bridges, railways and nearly half of the electricity grid and other public services of Ukraine, just in the last month. He also referred to accounts of atrocities committed by the Russians in occupied territory, including murder, rape, torture, forced deportation and looting.
“Ukraine will have a huge task to rebuild the country and recover from this war,” Kyslytsya said. “But that recovery can never be completed without a sense of justice for the victims of the Russian war.”
By establishing a mechanism to document the allegations, he added, “Ukraine is committed to a transparent, impartial and objective process that will be managed and monitored by the international community in order to avoid even the slightest perception of bias.”
“It is time to hold Russia accountable,” Kyslytsya said, calling the resolution “a sign of hope for justice.”
Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia urged Assembly members to vote against the resolution, calling it “an attempt to legalize something that in the eyes of existing international law cannot be legalized.” It is “legally null and void.”
Nebenzia accused the West of “doing everything possible to give an impression of legitimacy” to start spending “billions of dollars worth of stolen Russian assets,” referring to assets frozen in the wake of sanctions on Moscow. In addition, she accused Western countries of seeking a General Assembly decision “as a smokescreen to hide this brazen theft” whose “beneficiaries will end up being Western military corporations.”
He warned that passing the resolution “can only increase tensions and instability around the world,” noting that supporters of the measure “will be implicated in the illegal expropriation of sovereign assets from a third country.”
Sixteen countries and the Palestinians agreed with Russia, saying in a joint statement that the resolution did not have “sufficient legal grounds.”
The signatories, including China, Iran, Angola and Venezuela, pointed out that countries suffering from foreign interference, colonialism, oppression, unilateral sanctions and other illegitimate acts at the international level also deserve reparations, compensation and justice.
The resolutions of the General Assembly are not legally binding, although they reflect world opinion.