UN told Russia's goal in Ukraine is 'genocide' as countries vote to demand Moscow ends war

Credit: AP

An overwhelming majority of UN countries have urged Russia to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine but four countries gave Vladimir Putin their backing, as the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN said Russia's goal in Ukraine was not just occupation, but "genocide".

A huge 141 countries backed a resolution at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly calling on Russia to leave Ukraine, while 35 abstained at an emergency session in New York on Wednesday.

Belarus, which has been labelled a co-aggressor in the invasion, voted against the reprimand along with Russia, as did North Korea, Eritrea and Syria.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN, told the assembly that Russia had "come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist. They have come to resolve the Ukrainian issue, as their propagandists claimed".

'More than 80 years ago, another dictator tried to resolve the issue of another people'

He urged countries "to stop and think, whether these words remind you of something".

"More than 80 years ago, another dictator tried to resolve the issue of another people", Mr Kyslytsya said.

"As the President of Ukraine asked what was the point of repeating the slogan 'never again in 80 years', it's already clear that the goal of Russia is not an occupation only, it is genocide."

Boris Johnson said the UN is "united in our abhorrence to the evil actions of Putin’s regime and stand side-by-side on the international stage as we deplore its aggression in the strongest possible terms".

'Rarely has the UN been so humiliated as it has been in the last week by Russia,' US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

Russia's UN representative Vasily Nebenzya urged the assembly to "not to support this draft [resolution]".

"However," he said, "we know about the unprecedented pressure that our Western partners are exerting".

He added: "The aim of our special operation...will be achieved. However, we are not carrying out strikes on civilian facilities and civilians."

Resolutions of the General Assembly are not legally binding but carry political weight by showing the strength of international feeling and the result further diplomatically isolates Russia at the UN.

The vote after the first emergency session of the assembly since 1997 easily surpassed the two-thirds majority required to pass.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was "grateful" for each country's vote, saying then had "chosen the right side of the story".

China and India were among those who abstained, but the reprimand was backed by nations ranging from world powers to tiny island states, showing the wide-reaching outrage at Moscow's attack.

The UK had been lobbying behind the scenes for nations to back the motion, which deplored Russian "aggression" in the "strongest terms" and demanded the total withdrawal of Putin's forces.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss the vote result shows "Russia is isolated", while Prime Minister Johnson said "rarely has the contrast between right and wrong been so stark".

He added: “We are – and will continue to be - unified in our resounding admiration for the courage and bravery of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people”.