United Nations fails to unanimously condemn Russian invasion on its one-year anniversary

February 24, 2023

Vladimir Putin scored something of a moral victory on Thursday as the United Nations General Assembly failed to unanimously condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine before its one-year anniversary.

Despite President Biden's efforts to rally the "international community," six countries joined Russia in rejecting the resolution that called for Putin to withdraw his forces from Ukraine.

The countries were Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria. Perhaps more significant were the 32 countries that abstained, including major nations like China and India.

Putin wins symbolic victory

While the vote would appear to go against claims that "the world" stands with Ukraine, the Biden administration hailed the toothless rebuke as "an overwhelming demonstration of support for Ukraine — and a clear defense of freedom for people everywhere.”

Ukraine's government similarly said the vote showed that support for Ukraine reaches beyond the Western world.

"This vote defies the argument that the global south does not stand on Ukraine’s side,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “Many countries representing Latin America, Africa, Asia voted in favor.”

Russia versus the world?

President Biden visited Ukraine and Poland this week to drive home a message of Western solidarity, pledging that Russia would "never" succeed in subduing Ukraine's "democracy."

But major countries outside the West, especially China and India, have been ambivalent toward Russia and its invasion. China and India have even increased trade with Russia over the past year, dampening the impact of Western sanctions. India, notably, is the world's largest democracy.

Nevertheless, Biden's top diplomat, Antony Blinken, spoke in the name of the "international community" in a speech to the U.N. Security Council -- of which Russia is a member -- condemning Russia's "crimes" one year after the invasion.

"Nations around the world continue to stand with Ukraine. Because we all recognize that if we abandon Ukraine, we abandon the UN Charter itself, and the principles and rules that make all countries safer and more secure," Blinken said.

White House rejects cease-fire

Blinken rejected a proposal for a cease-fire from China, saying it let Russia off the hook for ending a war that Putin, and only Putin, can stop.

“Russia fights for conquest, Ukraine fights for its freedom. If Russia stops fighting and leaves Ukraine, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends," Blinken said.

Putin has framed things differently for his people, saying the war was caused by Western aggressors threatening Russia's existence.

The Biden administration redoubled its support for Ukraine Friday, pledging another $2 billion in military aid on top of the tens of billion already spent.

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