'I'm afraid': Ukraine's UN ambassador reads out texts by Russian soldier to mum just before he died

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UNITED NATIONS - Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Mr Sergiy Kyslytsya, gave an emotional and evocative speech to the General Assembly's 193 members on Monday (Feb 28) as they held an extraordinary debate on Russia's invasion of the former Soviet state.

During the rare emergency special session, just the 11th the Assembly has held in its history, Mr Kyslytsya said: "If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive. Have no illusions."

During the speech, he held up a printed screenshot of what he said were the final text messages from a Russian soldier to his mother before he was killed.

He then read them out.

Mum: "Alyosha, how are you doing? Why has it been so long since you responded? Are you really in training exercises?"

Soldier: "Mama, I'm no longer in Crimea. I'm not in training sessions."

Mum: "Where are you then? Papa is asking whether I can send you a parcel."

Soldier: "What kind of parcel mama, can you send me?"

Mum: "What are you talking about, what happened?"

Soldier: "Mama, I'm in Ukraine. There is a real war raging here. I'm afraid. We are bombing all of the cities together, even targeting civilians. We were told that they would welcome us and they are falling under our armoured vehicles, throwing themselves under the wheels and not allowing us to pass. They call us fascists. Mama, this is so hard."

Mr Kyslytsya told the Assembly that the soldier died several moments later.

"If you want to just visualise the magnitude of the tragedy, you have to imagine next to you, next to every nameplate of every single country in the General Assembly, more than 30 souls of killed Russian soldiers already.

"Next to every name of every single country in this assembly, 30-plus killed Russian soldiers. Hundreds of killed Ukrainians, dozens of killed children, and it goes on and on and on," he was quoted by Sky News as saying.

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Representatives of more than 100 countries are expected to speak over three days as the global body decides if it will support a resolution that demands Russia immediately withdraws its troops from Ukraine, AFP reported.

A vote is expected Wednesday, and it must reach a two-thirds threshold to pass.

The resolution is non-binding but will serve as a marker of how isolated Russia is.

Its authors hope they may exceed 100 votes in favour - though countries including Syria, China, Cuba and India are expected to either support Russia or abstain.

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