World urges Pakistan to condemn Ukraine conflict at UN

ISLAMABAD: The heads of some 22 diplomatic missions stationed in Islamabad have urged Pakistan to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine during a rare emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, as the West steps up a diplomatic campaign to isolate Moscow.

The session of the 193-member body will vote on a draft resolution “to demand the end of hostilities, protection of civilians, and safe and unhindered humanitarian access to meet the urgent needs of the population”.

It is similar to a text vetoed by Russia in the 15-member Security Council on Friday. No country has a veto in the General Assembly and Western diplomats expect the resolution, which needs two-thirds support, to be adopted.

In a joint letter written to Pakistan on Tuesday, the ambassadors recalled the February 25 resolution vetoed by Moscow. China, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) abstained and the remaining 11 members voted yes.

The diplomats said the resolution was aimed at reaffirming the commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and would have deplored in the strongest terms the violence in Ukraine.

“In addition, the resolution called on Russia to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the territory of Ukraine,” the letter read.

The violence “constitutes a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and presents a serious risk to global peace and security”, it added.

“We deplore the loss of life and humanitarian suffering as innocent civilians are being targeted and a mass exodus of women and children is underway into neighbouring countries from Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state and member of the United Nations. This is unacceptable in Europe, as it is anywhere in the World.”

The diplomats stressed the international community must work in solidarity and support and uphold the rules-based international order “in these extreme times”.

The letter is jointly signed by the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Japan, Norway and Switzerland as well as the head of the Delegation of the European Union in Pakistan.

The high commissioners of Canada, the United Kingdom and the chargé d’affaires of Australia are also signatories to the letter.

Quoting a diplomatic source, a report in Dawn said Islamabad had decided not to participate in the emergency session of the General Assembly.

“Pakistan has decided not to take sides on this issue,” the report said. “Islamabad supports a peaceful and negotiated settlement [of the issue].”


The General Assembly is expected to vote on the latest resolution as soon as Wednesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

“Russia cannot veto our voices. Russia cannot veto the Ukrainian people. And Russia cannot veto the UN Charter. Russia cannot, and will not, veto accountability,” said Thomas-Greenfield.

While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight. The United States and allies see action at the United Nations as a chance to show Russia is isolated.

They will be looking to improve on the 100 countries who voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution in March 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region. That resolution declared invalid a referendum on the status of Crimea.

The draft resolution already has at least 80 co-sponsors, diplomats said on Monday. More than 100 countries are due to speak before the General Assembly votes.

The vote will come at the end of the emergency special session. It will only be the 11th such General Assembly session convened since 1950.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said of the Security Council votes on Friday and Sunday: “Any attempt to circumvent the position of a Russian Federation, any attempt to disregard it, undermines the very bedrock of the UN Charter.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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