The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously condemned Russia’s ambitions to invade four Ukrainian territories. The resolution urges the international community not to recognize Russia’s annexation claims and calls for their prompt reversal. It encourages and “strongly supports” attempts to de-escalate the violence through negotiations.

Why this is happening
President Vladimir Putin signed documents last week in the Kremlin to incorporate the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson into Russia.

The agreements were made with the Moscow-installed leaders of the four regions, and they followed self-proclaimed referendums in the areas that the West called a “sham.”

How the countries voted
The resolution was endorsed by 143 countries, while 35 governments abstained, including China and India.

Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Nicaragua, in addition to Russia, voted for the referendum. All of the countries who voted with Russia have a lengthy history of criticising Western governments.

Despite the symbolic nature of the ballot, it was the biggest number of votes cast against Russia since the invasion. Belarus is regarded as a satellite state of its neighbour and friend, and its territory was exploited in Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine.

Along with China and India, which have attempted to remain neutral in the dispute, 19 African countries abstained from voting.

Why Africa took this position.
Many African countries have avoided taking sides in the war, which has been interpreted as a reflection of efforts to retain long-standing trade links, or of a desire to avoid conflict and remain neutral.

Many African countries have avoided taking sides in the conflict, including Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, and Uganda, which were visited by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in July. Meanwhile, all four countries visited by Ukraine’s own foreign minister – Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Senegal – voted at the UN to censure Russia.

A deeper story.
The vote in the General Assembly came after Russia used its veto power to prevent action in the Security Council, the body in charge of ensuring international peace and security. China, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom all have veto power on the council as permanent members, as well as Russia. Following the invasion of Ukraine, there have been calls for Russia to lose its veto power.

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