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U.N. set to hold vote that would demand Russia end war in Ukraine

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during an emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly on Monday in New York.

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly will vote on Wednesday on a non-binding resolution that condemns Russia for the violence in Ukraine and demands an immediate withdrawal. By the end of Tuesday, 94 U.N. member countries had cosponsored the resolution, signaling what is certain to be a lopsided vote against Russia, which is a member of the body’s Security Council.

The vote comes amid multiple efforts to wall off Russia diplomatically, a surge in the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine, an initial estimate that the humanitarian effort within the country will cost more than $1 billion, and an emergency, often heated, debate at the General Assembly. None of the diplomatic activities appeared to slow Russia’s attacks Wednesday morning, as new reports said Russian air strikes had hit a regional police headquarters in Kharkiv, injuring three people.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, singling out Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in her speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, said the war was based on lies.

“Mr. Lavrov, you can deceive yourself, but you won’t deceive us. And you won’t deceive our people and you won’t deceive your own people,” she said.

Russian diplomats, including Vassily Nebenzia, the country’s ambassador to the U.N., have called the attacks against Ukraine a “special military operation” intended to defend two separatist regions.

“Russia is seeking to end this war,” Nebenzia said earlier this week.

The resolution “demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” It also expresses “grave concern at reports of attacks on civilian facilities such as residences, schools, and hospitals, and of civilian casualties, including women, older persons, persons with disabilities, and children.”

Last week, Russia vetoed a similar resolution at the 15-member Security Council. It was mostly isolated: No other nation opposed it, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained. Eleven nations, including the United States, supported it.

“No state should be able to get away with what Russia got away with without facing diplomatic isolation,” Samuel Charap, a political scientist at the Rand Corporation said. “The question is, does it alter the course of the war, really? And there, it doesn’t seem likely.”

The United Arab Emirates assumed the rotating chair of the Security Council on Tuesday, and Lana Nussiebeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the U.N., became president of the Security Council on Monday. She said Monday that the UAE’s abstention from the Security Council’s resolution would not affect how it chairs the panel.

“We must leave space for a diplomatic offramp,” she said. “Those countries that did abstain have those channels with President Putin and will use them to help.”

She did not say whether the UAE would abstain from Wednesday’s General Assembly vote. The United Arab Emirates did not cosponsor the resolution. A vote is scheduled at 10 a.m. ET.

Separately, the United Nations said on Tuesday it estimates the initial humanitarian and refugee needs will cost $1.7 billion. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said humanitarian agencies need $1.1 billion dollars to fund emergency relief within Ukraine for the next three months. He also requested another $551 million to help pay for services for Ukrainians fleeing the country, especially in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

The money, he said, would help people access health supplies, safe drinking water, shelter and protection.

“The most effective humanitarian relief is to silence the guns,” he said.

An estimated 650,000 people have fled Ukraine and entered European Union countries since Russia invaded last week. The European Union Commission proposed on Wednesday to allow them to stay for up to two years, under a “temporary protection directive.” If approved by EU member states, Ukrainians would be allowed to work and children would be allowed to attend school within the entire EU.

All those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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