UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly began debating on Monday whether to demand that Russia backtrack on the annexation of four regions of Ukraine – a discussion that took place amid strikes Moscow’s largest missile launches in months have once again alarmed much of the international community.
The assembly’s special session was scheduled before Monday’s roadblock, but countries have spoken out over widespread Monday morning rush-hour attacks that killed at least 14 people and injured dozens.
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergey Kyslytsya said some of his relatives were in danger in a residential building, unable to get to a bomb shelter.
“By launching missile attacks on civilians sleeping in their homes or rushing towards children going to school, Russia has proven once again that it is a terrorist state which must be deterred in the most strong as possible,” he said.
Russia said it was aiming military and energy installations. But some of the missiles hit civilian areas: a park, a suburban minibus, etc.
Russia said it was responding to what it called a Ukrainian “terrorist” attack on a major bridge on Saturday, and Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the assembly that Moscow had warned there would be no no impunity for such an act.
The bridge was “civilian infrastructure, critical infrastructure,” he told reporters outside the chamber.
Ukrainian officials did not confirm that Kyiv was behind the attack on the bridge or other incidents of apparent sabotage, but said they welcomed Russia’s setbacks in all territories it claimed to annex.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was “deeply shocked” by the Russian attacks and spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Various nations also lamented the bombardment. Turkey’s UN ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, whose country helped the UN broker a deal in July to move Ukrainian and Russian grain exports, called Monday’s attacks “deeply disturbing and unacceptable”. .
Costa Rican Ambassador Maritza Chan Valverde said the strikes showed “continued and total disregard for human rights, humanitarian law and international standards”.
Hours after the missiles were stolen, the UN assembly convened to consider responding to Russia’s alleged absorption last month of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The move follows Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that the Ukrainian government and the West dismissed as sham votes held in occupied land amid war and displacement.
A proposed Assembly resolution would demand that Moscow “immediately and unconditionally” renounce its supposed annexations and call on all countries not to recognize them.
The measure, led by the European Union, would also insist on the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from all internationally recognized Ukrainian territory.
The Russian ambassador decried the debate as a one-sided exercise in pushing an anti-Russian rhetoric.
“Such cynicism, confrontation and dangerous polarization as we have never seen today in the history of the UN,” Nebenzia said.
He reiterated his country’s assertion that the “referendums” were valid and that Moscow is working to “protect” people in the regions from what the Kremlin sees as a hostile Ukrainian government.
Dozens of nations, from Latvia to Fiji, advocated for the resolution on Monday, with some speaking out through regional organizations. The debate is expected to continue on Wednesday, and Russian friends such as Syria and North Korea are among the countries that have registered to speak.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, responding to questions Monday in Australia, declined to say what his country thinks of the measure.
The full assembly of 193 members is expected to vote on Wednesday or later. Russia wanted the secret ballot, an unusual decision that the assembly rejected, 107 votes to 13, with 39 abstentions. Russian offers to reconsider the idea of ​​the secret ballot were rejected.
Russia recently vetoed a similar UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned the supposed annexations. Under a decision taken earlier this year, Security Council vetoes must now be explained to the General Assembly.
The assembly does not authorize vetoes, but its resolutions are not legally binding, like those of the Security Council.
During the war, the assembly voted to demand that Russia cease its attacks, to blame Moscow for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
Meanwhile, there has been a stalemate in the Security Council, where Russia is one of five countries with veto power.

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