The UN General Assembly approved this Wednesday with a resounding majority a resolution to condemn “illegal referendums” carried out in four Ukrainian regions and Russia’s attempts to annex these territories. The Nicaraguan representation was the only one, from the American continent, that voted against.
The text received 143 votes in favor, 35 abstentions (among others from China, South Africa, India and Cuba) and only five votes against (Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria) and illustrated the forceful international rejection of the Kremlin’s actions.
Nicaragua’s vote is consistent with the submission policy of Daniel Ortega and his regime before the Russian giant. After the invasion of Ukraine, the Sandinista leader was one of the first leaders in the world to support and justify his “political ally” Vladimir Putin, president of Russia.
Nicaragua and Russia have strengthened their relations in all fields since Ortega returned to the Presidency in 2007, after having coordinated a Government Junta from 1979 to 1985 and presiding over the country for the first time from 1985 to 1990.
In 2008, a year after Ortega returned to power, Nicaragua joined Russia in recognizing the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in 2020 established a consulate in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed to Russia. .
In the Ortega governments, Russia has provided support to Nicaragua in various fields, including the military, transportation, and food.
A triumph for Ukraine and its allies
The resolution, which was presented after Russia vetoed a similar one in the Security Council of Nations, demands that Moscow reverse its actions on the status of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions and requires it to withdraw its troops immediately and unconditionally from Ukraine.
According to the General Assembly’s decision, the referendums and subsequent declarations of annexation “have no validity under international law and do not serve as a basis for in any way changing the status of those regions of Ukraine.”
Russia called the resolution a “politicized and openly provocative” instrument. and assured that it is a message of confrontation that “could destroy all efforts in favor of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.”
“It has nothing to do with the protection of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. By presenting this draft, Western countries are pursuing their own geopolitical goals and are once again trying to use the members of the General Assembly as figureheads,” Russian Ambassador Vasili Nebenzia denounced.
The vote was a clear victory for Ukraine and its alliesas the text received even more support than when last March this same body condemned the beginning of the Russian invasionwith a resolution that had 141 votes in favor, 35 abstentions and five votes against, a result that diplomats from different countries found it difficult to repeat.
In 2014, when the UN General Assembly condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea, the resolution was supported by 100 countries, while 11 voted against and 58 abstained.
Fighting for votes against Russia
Wednesday’s vote ended days of intense talks at the United Nations, with European and US diplomats trying to rally as many supporters as possible and Russia seeking no votes or at least abstentions.
The fight focused above all on the countries of the so-called “global south” and, specifically, on African, Asian and Latin American states that have not taken a clear position on the war.
The speeches of the two parties were addressed to them, with Russia denouncing the “hypocrisy” of the Western powers due to precedents such as that of Kosovo, recalling the European colonial past and accusing the US and its allies of carrying out a strong pressure campaign to obtain votes.
On the other hand, the US or France stressed that any country could be the next victim of an invasion and that there must be a clear message of rejection, with no room for abstention. “This is not about choosing a side, but about protecting the international order,” said the French ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière.
Spain, for its part, denounced a “continued and flagrant violation of International Law” by Russia and made it clear that these “illegal annexation attempts” will never be recognized.
One of the Russian arguments to ask for a “no” was the idea that this resolution hinders a possible negotiated solution to the conflict, a position that countries like China used to justify their abstention.
China, which has avoided openly criticizing the invasion, insisted that the international priority must be to achieve a rapprochement of positions between Russia and Ukraine and promote a diplomatic solution, something to which, in Beijing’s opinion, this text does not contribute.
“The only way to achieve peace is to stop this aggression, demand accountability and unite with conviction to show what we will not tolerate,” responded the US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.