Russia furious over UN vote condemning Ukrainian annexation
By Stefan J. Bos
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian television that the latest U.N. vote was anti-Russian. He said the West had used "methods of diplomatic terrorism" to force developing countries to vote and dismissed the U.S. claims that Washington did not pressure anyone.
The United Nations general assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia's annexation of parts of Ukraine, as 35 countries abstained, including China, India, South Africa, and Pakistan.
The resolution "condemns the organization by the Russian Federation of so-called referendums within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine." It also blasted "the attempted illegal annexation" announced last month of four regions by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
No more war!
But the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, stressed that the resolution must, in his words, "not be seen as a way to aggravate the conflict," which he added, "already created too many victims."
And he made clear it was time to end Europe's most significant armed conflict since World War Two. "Pope Francis stressed that we, gathered here in this chamber, have a role to play and must 'do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing [our]selves […] to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue," he recalled.
"These words take on greater weight with the added threat of nuclear escalation," Archbishop Caccia added. He stressed that "from this hall may the clarion call of Pope Paul VI sound out again: 'No more war!'."
Ukrainian bid to join Nato
The Archbishop spoke amid further East-West tensions over Ukraine's attempts to join the U.S.-led NATO military alliance quickly.
The deputy secretary of the Russian security council, Alexander Venediktov, warned that Ukraine's NATO admission of Ukraine could result in a third world war.
As the saber-rattling continued, the president of NATO member-state Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, started talks with his Russian counterpart, Putin, to mediate an end to the war. Yet their meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, did little to ease the suffering on Thursday.
Ukraine's state emergency service said it was actively searching for people trapped under rubble after a Russian strike hit a five-story residential building in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
A 12-year-old boy was rescued, but many more were believed to be trapped.
It was the latest known destruction in a week when Russia fired some 100 cruise missiles across war-torn Ukraine.