UN vote on Russia’s annexations MAPPED as concerns over Putin’s global influence grow


    Ukraine defences shoots down cruise missile near power station

    A record number of countries sided against Russia in the latest UN General Assembly vote – held last week on whether the takeover of four eastern Ukrainian regions was legitimate. However, despite the atrocities committed since the war began, 35 countries remain on the fence – China and India notably among them – suggesting the world isn’t quite as unified against Russia as the West would like. Behind the rhetoric of international forums, many nations still rely on Russian exports of weapons and fuel, or consider their potential veto an asset worth keeping.

    Putin eyes his international allies

    Russia’s global influence is more pervasive than the West cares to admit (Image: GETTY, EXPRESS)

    UN general assembly vote

    A motion to conduct the UN vote by secret ballot was dismissed (Image: GETTY )

    Over the past fortnight, Russia has embarked on a campaign of aerial bombardment of civilian areas in Ukrainian cities following the bombing of the country’s only bridge to Crimea on Saturday.

    The move is yet another desperate retaliatory measure by Vladimir Putin, whose forces have been suffering substantial losses from a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

    On September 30, the Russian president signed the so-called accession treaties of four Ukrainian regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – unilaterally declaring them a part of Russia.

    Totalling 40,000 square miles – 15 percent of Ukraine’s territory – the annexation marks the largest takeover of territory in Europe since the Second World War.

    READ MORE: Putin war machine goes up in smoke – vital gunpowder factory explodes

    UN vote mapped

    The majority of countries abstaining were in Africa (Image: EXPRESS)

    Poland mock referendum

    A mock referendum on the annexation of the Russian embassy was held in Warsaw on October 15 (Image: GETTY)

    The referenda, reportedly involving the military collecting votes door-to-door, were widely criticised by the international community.

    Last Wednesday, the UN General Assembly debated the legality of Russia’s annexations. A total of 143 of the organisation’s 193 members voted to condemn Moscow’s actions – more than at any other time since the war began.

    The unprecedented show of support was praised by Western allies as a demonstration that “Ukraine fatigue” wasn’t setting-in at as fast a pace as previously feared. Only Russian allies Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua sided with the aggressor in the vote.

    However, a look at the list of those who chose not to vote in favour raises questions over how isolated Putin really is.

    While ten countries chose not to participate at all, 35 UN members opted to abstain. Although not necessarily an endorsement, these countries account for nearly half of the world’s population.

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    Putin and Xi Jinping

    Putin and Xi last met at the SCO summit in Uzbekistan on September 16 (Image: GETTY)

    Most notably among them are China and India. On the opening day of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping declared a “friendship between the two states with no limits, no forbidden areas of cooperation.”

    Since Russian troops crossed Ukraine’s border a few weeks later, China has been thrust into a delicate position on the international stage. Although the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank – dominated by the Chinese state – froze lending to Russia and Belarus, Beijing has consistently evaded calls to impose sanctions.

    On September 15, the pair met once again at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Uzbekistan, during which Putin praised “the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.”

    The Russian president also made a point of denouncing the Western “provocation” in the Taiwan Strait. China found itself at loggerheads with NATO in August after a controversial visit to the island by US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, which China responded to with its largest-ever live-fire military exercises in the waters around the island.

    Putin and Modi

    President Modi reportedly told Putin this was “not an era of war” (Image: GETTY)

    For its part, India justifies its abstention by its longstanding commitment to non-alignment, in which it does not take sides in contentious diplomatic debates in favour of maintaining strategic autonomy.

    However, many have highlighted that the move may in fact have more to do with the national interest, Russia remaining India’s largest arms supplier. Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, India has been accused of undermining international sanctions aiming to cut off financing to Putin’s war machine by increasing purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizer.

    In August, alongside China, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan, India took part in vast Russian military exercises in the country’s eastern seaboard region of Vostok.

    Upon meeting at the September SCO summit also attended by Mr Xi, the Indian prime minister reportedly struck a more critical tone, telling his Russian counterpart: “I know that today’s era is not an era of war.”

    The day of the vote, Ruchira Kamboj, India’s permanent representative to the UN, told the General Assembly: “We believe that the global order that we all subscribe to is based on international law, the UN charter, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.” 

    He went on to note that India’s “decision to abstain is consistent with our well-thought-out national position.” The country joined a chorus of speakers in expressing concern that people in the global South were suffering from food, fuel and fertiliser shortages as a result of the war.

    The UN vote last week also demonstrated just how little had changed since UN members first convened to condemn Russia’s invasion in early March – only Iraq and Angola joined the ranks of those voting against.

    The majority of the remaining abstaining countries were in Africa, many of which benefit from Russian supplies of arms, fuels and investment.

    Seven months ago, Eritrea voted with Russia, but last week made the decision to abstain. Djibouti had previously voted to condemn the invasion but was among those not voting at all this time around. For its part, Ethiopia relies on Russia’s veto in UN Security Council meetings during debates on the country’s civil war raging in Tigray.

    In a statement during the session, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s representative Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja said that while his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, it deplored “the politics of double standards of the powerful of this world when it comes to Africa”. 

    Mr Nzongola-Ntalaja went on to recall that Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion of his country in 1998 was met with no calls for sanctions or strong action from the international community.


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