War in Ukraine: "Clear message": UN condemns Russia's illegal referendums and annexations

The UN General Assembly has condemned Russia's "illegal annexations" in Ukraine by a large majority.

War in Ukraine: "Clear message": UN condemns Russia's illegal referendums and annexations

The UN General Assembly has condemned Russia's "illegal annexations" in Ukraine by a large majority. 143 of the 193 UN member states voted in favor of a corresponding resolution at an emergency session on Wednesday, five against. US President Joe Biden spoke of a "clear message" to Moscow. Meanwhile, several western states have promised to deliver anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.

Russia "cannot erase a sovereign state from the map," said President Biden. "143 nations have sided with freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity," he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the vote showed international unity against Russia and reiterated that Washington would never recognize the sham referendums. The vote was a "reminder that the overwhelming majority of nations stand with Ukraine," said Blinken.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had previously asked all nations to set an example. "Today it is Russia invading Ukraine. But tomorrow it could be another country whose territory is violated. It could be yours," said Thomas-Greenfield.

35 countries abstained from the vote, including China, India, South Africa and Pakistan. Earlier, the US had been scrambling to persuade South Africa and India, which has historically close ties with Russia, to vote in favor of the resolution.

Indian envoy Ruchira Kamboj justified India's abstention by saying that "the entire global south has suffered significant collateral damage from the war" and that "urgent issues" were not addressed in the resolution.

At the beginning of March, 141 countries had already voted for a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw "immediately" from Ukraine. Bangladesh, Iraq and Senegal, who abstained in March, voted in favor of the resolution on Wednesday. Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua opposed the resolution.

The new resolution condemns Russia's so-called "referendums" in the occupied territories of Ukraine and the subsequent annexation of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions.

At the end of September, Russia vetoed a resolution condemning the annexations in the UN Security Council. In the UN General Assembly, however, Russia has no veto right.

Meanwhile, several countries have announced that they will support Ukraine in building an air defense system. Great Britain announced on Wednesday that it wants to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to defend against Russia. "The AMRAAM missiles (...) will be made available in the coming weeks for use with the NASAMS air defense systems promised by the US," said the British Ministry of Defense. The missiles would help protect critical infrastructure in Ukraine, it said.

France had previously promised Ukraine the delivery of air defense systems. "We will deliver radars, (air defense) systems and missiles" to protect the Ukrainians "particularly from drone attacks," President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the France 2 broadcaster on Wednesday.

Germany has already delivered the first Iris-T SLM air defense system to Ukraine, and three more are to follow in the coming year, as Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) confirmed on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ukraine contact group in Brussels.

The announcements came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday called on the G7 countries to help his country build an air defense system.