The U.N. General Assembly voted by a wide margin to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Russia’s announced annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Though Wednesday's 143-5 vote, with 35 abstentions, is not legally binding, it sent the international community's strongest signal so far that there is broad support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia's military invasion on Feb. 24 and attempts to illegally annex the four regions of Ukraine last month.
"It's amazing," Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told reporters after the vote, which reflected intense lobbying by the United States, European Union and United Kingdom. "The nations made the right choice: to defend the principles of the United Nations Charter, and to follow the Charter in their everyday life."
The vote capped several days of speeches in the assembly during its 11th emergency session on the war in Ukraine. Many other nations called on Russia to account for violating the U.N. Charter's principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity for the world body's 193 member nations.
As the United Nations' founding document, the Charter, signed in 1945, is considered a treaty and codifies major principles of international relations. Moscow's stage-managed “referendums” in the four regions have been widely dismissed as sham votes during a war in occupied land.
Russia 'tearing at the very foundations' of peace and security
Only Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria sided with Russia in opposing the resolution, which calls on Moscow to "immediately and unconditionally" reverse course in Ukraine by ending the seven-month war, giving up its claim to the four regions, and pulling out of the entire country.
It is the assembly's fourth resolution on Ukraine, but it passed with the broadest support.
"Today, the overwhelming majority of the world — nations from every region, large and small, representing a wide array of ideologies and governments — voted to defend the United Nations Charter and condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Ukrainian territory by force," U.S. President Joe Biden said.
"One hundred forty-three nations stood on the side of freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity — even more than the 141 nations that voted in March to unequivocally condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine," he said. "By attacking the core tenets of the U.N. Charter, Russia is tearing at the very foundations of international peace and security."
Biden said the stakes in this conflict are "clear to all" that Russia cannot be allowed to "seize another country’s territory as its own" and Ukraine must have "the same rights as every other sovereign country" by choosing its own future and living peacefully within its internationally recognized borders.