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U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to censure Russia

The international organization called on Russia to immediately end fighting in Ukraine.
Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya speaks at the 11th emergency special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on March 2, 2022.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, speaks Wednesday at an emergency special session of the General Assembly about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The U.N. General Assembly voted Wednesday to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces.

The General Assembly voted 141-5, with 35 countries abstaining, for the draft resolution, Aggression against Ukraine, which was co-sponsored by 94 countries. Only five nations voted against the measure: Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea. 

"We believe this is a simple vote," the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in her remarks Wednesday. "Vote yes if you believe U.N. member states, including your own, have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for his actions,” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Vote yes if you believe in upholding the U.N. Charter and everything this institution stands for.”

Russia vetoed a similar draft resolution last week in the Security Council.

Thomas-Greenfield accused Russian forces of moving "exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield," based on videos she had seen. She did not show the videos.

"That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are banned under the Geneva Convention," she continued.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., announced Wednesday that they were offering separate resolutions urging the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice to investigate Putin for war crimes and crimes against humanity, charges that some critics have leveled for the use of weapons that Thomas-Greenfield described.

"There will come a day when the rule of law will trump the rule of the gun, and that day, I hope, will come sooner rather than later," Graham said at a news conference.

Graham said he hopes to garner bipartisan support for the resolution to hold Putin accountable.

"This is a proper exercise of jurisdiction. This is what the court was created for, because there is no venue absent this court, in my view, to hold Putin and those who follow his orders accountable," he said.