February 24, 2023 | Policy Brief

UN General Assembly votes 141-7 for Russian Forces to Withdraw from Ukraine

February 24, 2023 | Policy Brief

UN General Assembly votes 141-7 for Russian Forces to Withdraw from Ukraine

With an overwhelming vote of 141 in favor, seven opposed, and 32 abstentions, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly demanded on Thursday that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.” While the resolution does not have the force of law, the lopsided vote demonstrates continued widespread international outrage toward the Kremlin one year after it initiated its large-scale, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The adopted resolution reaffirms “commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” demands an immediate and full Russian military withdrawal, calls for an end to attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure in Ukraine, and emphasizes the need for accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine.

The resolution specifically condemned Russia for “violations and abuses committed against children,” including those who have been “forcibly transferred and deported.”

According to a Conflict Observatory report published last week, Russia “has systematically relocated at least 6,000 children from Ukraine to a network of re-education and adoption facilities.” Eleven of the camps where these children are being detained are located over 500 miles from Ukraine’s border with Russia, and two of the camps are in Siberia.

The resolution also demands that Russia immediately cease its attacks against hospitals and schools, calling to mind the widely denounced Russian airstrike against a maternity ward in Mariupol last March.

The six-nation club that sided with Russia by voting against the resolution includes North Korea, Syria, Belarus, Eritrea, Nicaragua, and Mali, a group of countries largely known for extensive human rights violations themselves.

In contrast, a wide coalition of nations voted in favor of the resolution. They included European democracies such as Ireland and Denmark, Middle-Eastern monarchies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and island nations such as Jamaica and Indonesia.

The list of 32 countries that abstained notably includes China and India.

Throughout the last year, Beijing has attempted to manage a difficult balancing act, providing diplomatic cover and cultivating its relationship with the Kremlin while trying to avoid the international disdain and potential consequences associated with supporting the invasion. Earlier this week, the Biden administration revealed that China has provided key industrial inputs to Russia’s war machine and that China is considering providing Russia with suicide drones similar to the Iranian Shahed-136 the Kremlin uses to destroy Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. The reality is that China and Russia are closer than they have been in decades, united in their disdain for the United States and the international rules-based order that constrains each government’s ambitions.

India, the world’s largest democracy and a growing partner of the United States, maintains longstanding security, diplomatic, and economic ties with Russia. New Delhi has resisted criticizing the Kremlin while importing record amounts of Russian oil, helping to fund Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. China’s growing alignment with Russia likely causes some consternation in New Delhi, given its long-standing border dispute with Beijing.

This resolution Thursday demonstrates continued international outrage toward the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine, offering a reminder that Russia could end the war tomorrow by ending its aggression and withdrawing its troops. Unfortunately, resolutions at the General Assembly won’t make that happen. The only hope of defeating the Russian invasion is by urgently delivering weapons to Ukraine in large and sustained quantities.

Bradley Bowman serves as senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where Jack Sullivan is a research associate. For more analysis from the authors and CMPP, please subscribe HERE. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CMPP. Follow Bradley on Twitter @Brad_L_Bowman. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


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