UN Security Council calls rare General Assembly session on Ukraine

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UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Sunday (Feb 27) called for a rare emergency special session of the 193-member General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which will be held on Monday, as western allies step up a diplomatic campaign to isolate Moscow.

The vote by the 15-member council was procedural so Russia could not wield its veto.

A resolution convening the General Assembly session was adopted with 11 yes votes. Russia voted no, while China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained.

“The members of this council have laid bare Russia’s diplomatic impotence. Russia again was isolated,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said.

“Russia cannot stop the world from coming together to condemn its invasion of Ukraine.”

The move is the latest in a flurry of diplomacy at the UN in New York. It follows a Russian veto on Friday of a draft council resolution that would have deplored Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained and the remaining 11 members voted yes.

While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight. The United States and allies see action at the UN as a chance to show Russia is isolated because of its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

They will be looking to improve on the 100 countries who voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution in March 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region. That resolution declared invalid a referendum on the status of Crimea.

The vote will be come at the end of the emergency special session. It will only be the 11th such General Assembly session convened since 1950.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said of the Security Council votes on Friday and Sunday: “Any attempt to circumvent the position of a Russian Federation, any attempt to disregard it, undermines the very bedrock of the UN Charter.”The Security Council is also set to meet again on Monday for a briefing on humanitarian needs of civilians in Ukraine. It will be the 5th council meeting on Ukraine in the past week.

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French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said France would put forward a draft council resolution “to demand the end of hostilities, protection of civilians, and safe and unhindered humanitarian access to meet the urgent needs of the population.”

He said it could be voted on as early as Tuesday.

Russia would be in a position to block the move if it chooses. It has Security Council veto power along with the US, France, Britain and China.

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