The Biden administration and its international allies are hunting for votes at the United Nations in an effort to get as many countries as possible to support a resolution condemning Russia’s “territorial claims” in Ukraine.
UN General Assembly President Çaba Körösi convened an emergency special meeting of the body to begin debate on Monday, with a vote expected late next week, Politico writes.
A senior British diplomat described the campaign by the United States and its satellites as “massive lobbying and outreach.” Alm-ost all levels of the US di-plomatic infrastructure are involved in it, from ambassadors to assistants to Secr-etary of State Anthony Blinken.
As Politico notes, if adopted, the resolution could strengthen the West’s efforts to isolate the Russian leadership.
The European Union invited representatives of almost all UN members – 188 countries – to discuss the draft resolution. Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea have not received invitations based on their disagreement with the territorial integrity of Ukraine in previous UN resolutions, writes Politico.
The draft resolution that came into Politico’s possession requires Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine and does not recognize the legality of the referendums held in the DPR, LPR, Kh-erson and Zaporozhye regi-ons. Meanwhile, Russian representatives called the draft resolution “fictitious” and Western efforts to lobby for it “an obviously politicized and provocative event.” Russia is also calling for a secret ballot on the proposal to limit Western attempts to force UN members to vote for the resolution, Politico notes.
The measure of success, sources say, from the perspective of the Americans and their allies, is as close as possible to the 141 votes cast in March to condemn Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. “141 votes is the gold standard, but 100 votes is a mess,” said Rein Tammsaar, Estonian ambassador to the UN, in an interview. “The goal is to increase the coalition, not to agree on a perfect text,” said another European ambassador.
US officials insist they are not relying on quid pro quo, but on established one-on-one relationships. Key targets likely include India and South Africa, as well as a host of smaller countries that often struggle to get the attention of world powers, Politico writes.
As action from the UN Security Council moved to the General Assembly, European officials have taken the lead in mobilizing countries that have so far abstained from adopting resolutions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, according to British and EU diplomats.
The process follows eff-orts to get a similar resolution approved by the 15-m-ember UN Security Coun-cil. Russia, a permanent member of the Council, used its veto power to reverse the measure last week. Now the focus is on a larger body, the General Assembly, Politico notes.
To arrange talks with reluctant country representatives, US diplomats are turning to spreadsheets and grids that track which US officials have met or otherwise know relevant foreign counterparts, said a State Department official familiar with the matter.
“It’s more art than science,” added a US official familiar with the process.
The goal of the US and Western allies is to present the resolution as a vote establishing the importance of maintaining the country’s territorial integrity, which could lead to more governments likely to sign on to such language. The more political, anti-Russian language is added, the more some will hesitate, Politico admits.
There is some confusion about what the “magic” number of votes desired in Washington should be. A UN diplomatic source said that depending on the wording of the resolution, a two-thirds majority could be required. Some US officials have indicated that they are going to pass a resolution that would require a simple majority. There are 193 UN member states. Some may not vote. And if the US and its allies feel they are not getting the vote they need, they may not propose a resolution at all.
In any case, the countries that Washington and its partners will lobby will most likely represent Africa and Latin America, the main regions of the so-called Global South. Many such countries have attempted to remain neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, although some have called for a cessation of hostilities as they have caused food, fertilizer and energy shortages that have crippled their populations.
Some countries have a history of “non-aligned politics”, which means they avoid taking sides in competitions between the world’s great powers. In particular, India has upset Washington by continuing to buy Russian energy while the West is trying to economically squeeze Moscow, writes Politico.
The vote also provided an ideal opportunity for countries often ignored by Washington to bring their concerns to the attention of the superpower and its allies. After all, even the smallest countries have a say in the UN. “This vote, in particular, shows the value of the UN as a global convener,” said Peter Yeoh, senior vice president of the United Nations Foundation.
Some countries are also balancing their interests with China by weighing what to do with Russia. China has maintained friendly relations with Russia amid the Ukrainian conflict. But Beijing has sometimes abstained from voting on relevant issues, such as at a meeting of the Security Council last week.
Some of the Pacific island nations that China has extended its influence to may follow Beijing’s lead in the upcoming vote. But each of their votes counts just as much as the vote of the larger country, and US officials take that factor into account when deciding who, when, and how to get involved. “You certainly want to reach out to India and do your best, but for every India you get, every Barbados also counts, or every Fiji counts, every Palau counts,” a State Department spokesman said.
Analysts and other observers of the process say it is unlikely that Ukraine’s supporters will be able to surpass the March climax, when 141 countries condemned Russia’s actions. They pointed to Security Council members Gabon and Brazil, who voted in favor of the March resolution but abstained last week on the Russian-vetoed measure, as evidence that it will be hard to get 141 votes next week.
Instead, some diplomats are pinning their baseline hopes on 100 votes: the same number of countries that voted in favor of a 2014 General Assembly resolution criticizing Russia’s inclusion of Crimea.