Hours after Russia launched large-scale airstrikes in Ukraine, the two nations clashed at the United Nations General Assembly ahead of a likely vote this week on whether to condemn Moscow’s decision to annex partially occupied regions in Ukraine.
On Monday night, the reaction from the audience summed up the initial results: Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN was greeted with applause while Russia’s delegate was greeted with silence.
Ukraine’s ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, opened his remarks by saying: “My day started almost 14 hours ago because my country was under attack” and described his family sheltering in a building.
“My immediate family was in a residential building under attack, unable to go to a bomb shelter because there was no electricity. Because Russia has already killed some members of my family and we do not see the end of that cruelty,” Kyslytsya said.
A debate of more than 66 speakers is expected to lead to a vote on a resolution that strongly condemns Russia’s annexation and declares it illegal under international law.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said he saw dangerous cynicism in the room with countries that rallied against Moscow, and mocked nations that accused his country of violating the charter by invading Ukraine.
Earlier, the General Assembly soundly defeated a Russian attempt to allow the vote on annexation to take place by secret ballot. The vote in favor of a non-secret ballot was 107 nations. Thirteen objected. Thirty-nine nations abstained.