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World opinion shifts against Russia as Ukraine worries grow

West­ern of­fi­cials have re­peat­ed­ly said that Rus­sia has be­come iso­lat­ed since in­vad­ing Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary. Un­til re­cent­ly, though, that was large­ly wish­ful think­ing. But on Tues­day, Wednes­day and Thurs­day, much of the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty spoke out against the con­flict in a rare dis­play of uni­ty at the of­ten-frac­tured Unit­ed Na­tions.

YV3191

The tide had al­ready ap­peared to be turn­ing against Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin even be­fore Thurs­day’s U.N. speech­es. Chi­nese and In­di­an lead­ers had been crit­i­cal of the war at a high-lev­el sum­mit last week in Uzbek­istan. And then the U.N. Gen­er­al As­sem­bly dis­re­gard­ed Rus­sia’s ob­jec­tions and vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly to al­low Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skyy to be the on­ly leader to ad­dress the body re­mote­ly, in­stead of re­quir­ing him to ap­pear in per­son.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

That shift against Rus­sia ac­cel­er­at­ed af­ter Putin on Wednes­day an­nounced the mo­bi­liza­tion of some ad­di­tion­al 300,000 troops to Ukraine, sig­nalling the un­like­li­hood of a quick end to the war. Putin al­so sug­gest­ed that nu­clear weapons may be an op­tion. That fol­lowed an an­nounce­ment of Rus­sia’s in­ten­tion to hold in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­da in sev­er­al oc­cu­pied Ukrain­ian re­gions with an eye to­ward pos­si­ble an­nex­a­tion

Those an­nounce­ments came at the very mo­ment that the Gen­er­al As­sem­bly, con­sid­ered the pre­mier event in the glob­al diplo­mat­ic cal­en­dar, was tak­ing place in New York

Nu­mer­ous world lead­ers used their speech­es on Tues­day and Wednes­day to de­nounce Rus­sia’s war. That trend con­tin­ued Thurs­day both in the as­sem­bly hall and at the usu­al­ly deeply di­vid­ed U.N. Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil, where, one by one, vir­tu­al­ly all of the 15 coun­cil mem­bers served up harsh crit­i­cism of Rus­sia—a coun­cil mem­ber—for ag­gra­vat­ing sev­er­al al­ready se­vere glob­al crises and im­per­illing the foun­da­tions of the world body

The ap­par­ent shift in opin­ion of­fers some hope to Ukraine and its West­ern al­lies that in­creas­ing iso­la­tion will add pres­sure on Putin to ne­go­ti­ate a peace. But few are un­du­ly op­ti­mistic. Putin has staked his lega­cy on the Ukraine war, and few ex­pect him to back down. And Rus­sia is hard­ly iso­lat­ed. Many of its al­lies de­pend on it for en­er­gy, food and mil­i­tary as­sis­tance and are like­ly to stand by Putin re­gard­less of what hap­pens in Ukraine

Still, it was strik­ing to hear Rus­sia’s nom­i­nal friends like Chi­na and In­dia, fol­low­ing up on last week’s re­marks, speak of grave con­cerns they have about the con­flict and its im­pact on glob­al food and en­er­gy short­ages as well as threats to the con­cepts of sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty that are en­shrined in the U.N. Char­ter

Brazil reg­is­tered sim­i­lar con­cerns. Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, Chi­na and South Africa make up the so-called BRICS bloc of coun­tries, which has of­ten shunned or out­right op­posed West­ern ini­tia­tives and views on in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions

On­ly one coun­try, Be­larus, a non-coun­cil mem­ber and Rus­sia al­ly that was in­vit­ed to par­tic­i­pate, spoke in sup­port of Rus­sia, but al­so called for a quick end to the fight­ing, which it called a “tragedy.”

“We hear a lot about the di­vi­sions among coun­tries at the Unit­ed Na­tions,” Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken said. “But re­cent­ly, what’s strik­ing is the re­mark­able uni­ty among mem­ber states when it comes to Rus­sia’s war on Ukraine. Lead­ers from coun­tries de­vel­op­ing and de­vel­oped, big and small, North and South have spo­ken in the Gen­er­al As­sem­bly about the con­se­quences of the war and the need to end it.”

“Even a num­ber of na­tions that main­tain close ties with Moscow have said pub­licly that they have se­ri­ous ques­tions and con­cerns about Pres­i­dent Putin’s on­go­ing in­va­sion,” Blinken said

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi was care­ful not to con­demn the war but said that Chi­na’s firm stance is that “the sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty of all coun­tries should be re­spect­ed. The pur­pos­es of the prin­ci­ples of the U.N. Char­ter should be ob­served.”

In­di­an Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter S. Jais­hankar said, “the tra­jec­to­ry of the Ukraine con­flict is a mat­ter of pro­found con­cern for the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.” He called for ac­count­abil­i­ty for atroc­i­ties and abus­es com­mit­ted in Ukraine. “If egre­gious at­tacks com­mit­ted in broad day­light are left un­pun­ished, this coun­cil must re­flect on the sig­nals we are send­ing on im­puni­ty. There must be con­sis­ten­cy if we are to en­sure cred­i­bil­i­ty,” he said

And Brazil­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Car­los Al­ber­to Fran­ca said im­me­di­ate ef­forts to end the war are crit­i­cal. “The con­tin­u­a­tion of the hos­til­i­ties en­dan­gers the lives of in­no­cent civil­ians and jeop­ar­dizes the food and en­er­gy se­cu­ri­ty of mil­lions of fam­i­lies in oth­er re­gions, es­pe­cial­ly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries,” he said. “The risks of es­ca­la­tion aris­ing for the cur­rent dy­nam­ics of the con­flict are sim­ply too great, and its con­se­quences for the world or­der un­pre­dictable.”

For­eign min­is­ters and top of­fi­cials from Al­ba­nia, Britain, France, Ire­land, Gabon, Ger­many, Ghana, Kenya, Mex­i­co and Nor­way de­liv­ered sim­i­lar re­bukes

“Rus­sia’s ac­tions are bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of the Char­ter of the Unit­ed Na­tions,” said Al­ban­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Ol­ta Xhac­ka. “We all tried to pre­vent this con­flict. We could not, but we must not fail to hold Rus­sia ac­count­able.”

Mex­i­can For­eign Sec­re­tary Marce­lo Ebrard called the in­va­sion a “fla­grant breach of in­ter­na­tion­al law” and Irish for­eign min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney said: “If we fail to hold Rus­sia ac­count­able, we send a mes­sage to large coun­tries that they can prey on their neigh­bours with im­puni­ty.”

Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov was un­apolo­getic and de­fen­sive at the same time and specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed Ze­len­skyy. Cit­ing a phrase of­ten at­trib­uted to Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt, Lavrov called Ze­len­skyy “a bas­tard,” but said West­ern lead­ers re­gard­ed him as “our bas­tard.”

He re­peat­ed a long list of Rus­sia’s com­plaints about Ukraine and ac­cused West­ern coun­tries of us­ing Ukraine for an­ti-Rus­sia ac­tiv­i­ties and poli­cies

“Every­thing I’ve said to­day sim­ply con­firms that the de­ci­sion to con­duct the spe­cial mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was in­evitable,” Lavrov said, fol­low­ing Russ­ian prac­tice of not call­ing the in­va­sion a war

Rus­sia has de­nied be­ing iso­lat­ed and the for­eign min­istry used so­cial me­dia to pub­li­cize a num­ber of ap­par­ent­ly cor­dial meet­ings that Lavrov has held with for­eign min­is­ter col­leagues at the UN in re­cent days

Still, Blinken and his col­leagues from oth­er NA­TO na­tions seized on what they be­lieve to be grow­ing op­po­si­tion to and im­pa­tience with Putin

And, sev­er­al speak­ers, in­clud­ing Ukrain­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Dmytro Kule­ba and British For­eign Sec­re­tary James Clev­er­ly, point­ed out that Lavrov skipped the meet­ing ex­cept for his speak­ing slot

“I no­tice that Russ­ian diplo­mats flee al­most as quick­ly as Russ­ian sol­diers,” Kule­ba said, re­fer­ring to Lavrov’s hasty ex­it along with re­cent Russ­ian troop re­treats in Ukraine

 

NEW YORK (AP) — The tide of in­ter­na­tion­al opin­ion ap­pears to be de­ci­sive­ly shift­ing against Rus­sia, as a num­ber of non-aligned coun­tries are join­ing the Unit­ed States and its al­lies in con­demn­ing Moscow’s war in Ukraine and its threats to the prin­ci­ples of the in­ter­na­tion­al rules-based or­der.

West­ern of­fi­cials have re­peat­ed­ly said that Rus­sia has be­come iso­lat­ed since in­vad­ing Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary. Un­til re­cent­ly, though, that was large­ly wish­ful think­ing. But on Tues­day, Wednes­day and Thurs­day, much of the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty spoke out against the con­flict in a rare dis­play of uni­ty at the of­ten-frac­tured Unit­ed Na­tions.

YV3191

The tide had al­ready ap­peared to be turn­ing against Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin even be­fore Thurs­day’s U.N. speech­es. Chi­nese and In­di­an lead­ers had been crit­i­cal of the war at a high-lev­el sum­mit last week in Uzbek­istan. And then the U.N. Gen­er­al As­sem­bly dis­re­gard­ed Rus­sia’s ob­jec­tions and vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly to al­low Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skyy to be the on­ly leader to ad­dress the body re­mote­ly, in­stead of re­quir­ing him to ap­pear in per­son.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

That shift against Rus­sia ac­cel­er­at­ed af­ter Putin on Wednes­day an­nounced the mo­bi­liza­tion of some ad­di­tion­al 300,000 troops to Ukraine, sig­nalling the un­like­li­hood of a quick end to the war. Putin al­so sug­gest­ed that nu­clear weapons may be an op­tion. That fol­lowed an an­nounce­ment of Rus­sia’s in­ten­tion to hold in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­da in sev­er­al oc­cu­pied Ukrain­ian re­gions with an eye to­ward pos­si­ble an­nex­a­tion

Those an­nounce­ments came at the very mo­ment that the Gen­er­al As­sem­bly, con­sid­ered the pre­mier event in the glob­al diplo­mat­ic cal­en­dar, was tak­ing place in New York

Nu­mer­ous world lead­ers used their speech­es on Tues­day and Wednes­day to de­nounce Rus­sia’s war. That trend con­tin­ued Thurs­day both in the as­sem­bly hall and at the usu­al­ly deeply di­vid­ed U.N. Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil, where, one by one, vir­tu­al­ly all of the 15 coun­cil mem­bers served up harsh crit­i­cism of Rus­sia—a coun­cil mem­ber—for ag­gra­vat­ing sev­er­al al­ready se­vere glob­al crises and im­per­illing the foun­da­tions of the world body

The ap­par­ent shift in opin­ion of­fers some hope to Ukraine and its West­ern al­lies that in­creas­ing iso­la­tion will add pres­sure on Putin to ne­go­ti­ate a peace. But few are un­du­ly op­ti­mistic. Putin has staked his lega­cy on the Ukraine war, and few ex­pect him to back down. And Rus­sia is hard­ly iso­lat­ed. Many of its al­lies de­pend on it for en­er­gy, food and mil­i­tary as­sis­tance and are like­ly to stand by Putin re­gard­less of what hap­pens in Ukraine

Still, it was strik­ing to hear Rus­sia’s nom­i­nal friends like Chi­na and In­dia, fol­low­ing up on last week’s re­marks, speak of grave con­cerns they have about the con­flict and its im­pact on glob­al food and en­er­gy short­ages as well as threats to the con­cepts of sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty that are en­shrined in the U.N. Char­ter

Brazil reg­is­tered sim­i­lar con­cerns. Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, Chi­na and South Africa make up the so-called BRICS bloc of coun­tries, which has of­ten shunned or out­right op­posed West­ern ini­tia­tives and views on in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions

On­ly one coun­try, Be­larus, a non-coun­cil mem­ber and Rus­sia al­ly that was in­vit­ed to par­tic­i­pate, spoke in sup­port of Rus­sia, but al­so called for a quick end to the fight­ing, which it called a “tragedy.”

“We hear a lot about the di­vi­sions among coun­tries at the Unit­ed Na­tions,” Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken said. “But re­cent­ly, what’s strik­ing is the re­mark­able uni­ty among mem­ber states when it comes to Rus­sia’s war on Ukraine. Lead­ers from coun­tries de­vel­op­ing and de­vel­oped, big and small, North and South have spo­ken in the Gen­er­al As­sem­bly about the con­se­quences of the war and the need to end it.”

“Even a num­ber of na­tions that main­tain close ties with Moscow have said pub­licly that they have se­ri­ous ques­tions and con­cerns about Pres­i­dent Putin’s on­go­ing in­va­sion,” Blinken said

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi was care­ful not to con­demn the war but said that Chi­na’s firm stance is that “the sov­er­eign­ty and ter­ri­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty of all coun­tries should be re­spect­ed. The pur­pos­es of the prin­ci­ples of the U.N. Char­ter should be ob­served.”

In­di­an Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter S. Jais­hankar said, “the tra­jec­to­ry of the Ukraine con­flict is a mat­ter of pro­found con­cern for the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.” He called for ac­count­abil­i­ty for atroc­i­ties and abus­es com­mit­ted in Ukraine. “If egre­gious at­tacks com­mit­ted in broad day­light are left un­pun­ished, this coun­cil must re­flect on the sig­nals we are send­ing on im­puni­ty. There must be con­sis­ten­cy if we are to en­sure cred­i­bil­i­ty,” he said

And Brazil­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Car­los Al­ber­to Fran­ca said im­me­di­ate ef­forts to end the war are crit­i­cal. “The con­tin­u­a­tion of the hos­til­i­ties en­dan­gers the lives of in­no­cent civil­ians and jeop­ar­dizes the food and en­er­gy se­cu­ri­ty of mil­lions of fam­i­lies in oth­er re­gions, es­pe­cial­ly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries,” he said. “The risks of es­ca­la­tion aris­ing for the cur­rent dy­nam­ics of the con­flict are sim­ply too great, and its con­se­quences for the world or­der un­pre­dictable.”

For­eign min­is­ters and top of­fi­cials from Al­ba­nia, Britain, France, Ire­land, Gabon, Ger­many, Ghana, Kenya, Mex­i­co and Nor­way de­liv­ered sim­i­lar re­bukes

“Rus­sia’s ac­tions are bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of the Char­ter of the Unit­ed Na­tions,” said Al­ban­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Ol­ta Xhac­ka. “We all tried to pre­vent this con­flict. We could not, but we must not fail to hold Rus­sia ac­count­able.”

Mex­i­can For­eign Sec­re­tary Marce­lo Ebrard called the in­va­sion a “fla­grant breach of in­ter­na­tion­al law” and Irish for­eign min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney said: “If we fail to hold Rus­sia ac­count­able, we send a mes­sage to large coun­tries that they can prey on their neigh­bours with im­puni­ty.”

Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov was un­apolo­getic and de­fen­sive at the same time and specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed Ze­len­skyy. Cit­ing a phrase of­ten at­trib­uted to Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt, Lavrov called Ze­len­skyy “a bas­tard,” but said West­ern lead­ers re­gard­ed him as “our bas­tard.”

He re­peat­ed a long list of Rus­sia’s com­plaints about Ukraine and ac­cused West­ern coun­tries of us­ing Ukraine for an­ti-Rus­sia ac­tiv­i­ties and poli­cies

“Every­thing I’ve said to­day sim­ply con­firms that the de­ci­sion to con­duct the spe­cial mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was in­evitable,” Lavrov said, fol­low­ing Russ­ian prac­tice of not call­ing the in­va­sion a war

Rus­sia has de­nied be­ing iso­lat­ed and the for­eign min­istry used so­cial me­dia to pub­li­cize a num­ber of ap­par­ent­ly cor­dial meet­ings that Lavrov has held with for­eign min­is­ter col­leagues at the UN in re­cent days

Still, Blinken and his col­leagues from oth­er NA­TO na­tions seized on what they be­lieve to be grow­ing op­po­si­tion to and im­pa­tience with Putin

And, sev­er­al speak­ers, in­clud­ing Ukrain­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Dmytro Kule­ba and British For­eign Sec­re­tary James Clev­er­ly, point­ed out that Lavrov skipped the meet­ing ex­cept for his speak­ing slot

“I no­tice that Russ­ian diplo­mats flee al­most as quick­ly as Russ­ian sol­diers,” Kule­ba said, re­fer­ring to Lavrov’s hasty ex­it along with re­cent Russ­ian troop re­treats in Ukraine