The Special Emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on Ukraine resumed this week to consider a draft resolution seeking to affirm the territorial integrity of that country while condemning the Russian Federation’s organisation of “illegal so-called referenda” as part of an effort to annex four regions of eastern Ukraine.
A similar resolution failed last week in the Security Council due to Moscow’s use of the veto, but the General Assembly debate was initially hamstrung by procedural issues after efforts by the Russian Federation for a secret ballot were defeated by the Assembly leading to Moscow’s envoy labeling the vote an “outrageous fraud”.
Russia’s push for a secret ballot was undercut when Albania immediately took to the floor on a point of order introducing a motion for the Assembly to affirm the current rules of procedure for an open ballot.
Albania’s Deputy Ambassador, Albana Dautllari says, “It is entirely unjustified for this resolution to conduct a secret ballot on a date decision would go against decades of precedent and undermine the practices of the world’s most representative, deliberative body.”
One hundred and seven countries backed Albania’s motion with 13 in opposition and 39 abstentions. Russia was incensed as it had planned to only introduce a motion for a secret ballot at a later stage in the proceedings.
Russian diplomat and the current Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia says, “You have all just now witnessed an outrageous fraud, which to our great regret. The President of the General Assembly played a key role. We were not given the floor on the point of order, and you can see that the light is still on behind our nameplate, our statement was distorted and what is being done now is deprive the members of the United Nations of the right to express their opinion. This is an unprecedented manipulation. It undermines the prestige of the General Assembly and the UN as a whole.”
Russia then sought to have the body reconsider the issue but again the votes failed overwhelmingly for Moscow that argued for a secret ballot in the context that it might be difficult for countries to express their positions publicly.
Nebenzia says, “We demand that our proposal to suspend the rule of procedure number 87 as a whole be put to the vote, including its agenda item B, and that this will be done now.”
However, because the decision had already been taken by a vote, countries objected including Ukraine’s Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya.
Kyslytsya says, “We call on the Russian delegation to stop putting hurdles on the way of the General Assembly to carry on the decision of the very important debate that we have in front of us.”
Despite objections, a vote to reconsider the initial Assembly’s decision for an open ballet went ahead with 16 countries backing Russia, 100 against and 34 abstentions; Moscow again roundly defeated.
The President of the Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi says, “I hear the opinion of the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation and his opinion will be duly reflected in the records of the meeting. Now we will proceed with a debate.”
The debate will resume Wednesday ahead of a vote on the resolution condemning Russia’s annexations of Ukrainian territory later this week, offering global sentiment but unlikely to change the calculus on the ground despite the diplomatic theatrics on display in here.
VIDEO: UN debates Russia’s land grab in Eastern Ukraine: