On November 14, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to hold Russia accountable for its war of aggression on Ukraine and establish a system to track the damage caused so that the cost of reparations could be determined and ultimately charged.
UN resolution on Russia’s reparation to Ukraine backed by 94 states
94 of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly voted in favor of the resolution, Reuters reported. 14 members voted against it and 73 abstained. This was the highest number of abstentions in any of the five UN resolutions on the war between Russia and Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on February 24.
Even though the resolution to denounce Russia received a majority of votes, the voting process was consistent with prior votes in that many of Russia’s supporters preferred to abstain. Major trading partners China and India abstained in the vote and have done so in all UN votes connected to Russia’s war. Many non-aligned nations in the Global South want to keep strong relationships with Russia since it is a substantial provider of food, energy, commodities, and nuclear technology.
UN voting on Russia’s war against Ukraine
Russia “shall bear the legal consequences of all of its internationally unlawful activities, including paying reparation for the damage, including any damage, caused by such acts,” according to the non-binding resolution.
The UN demanded the creation of an international database to track accusations made against Russia.
Damage done to Ukraine is estimated at $750 billion
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, has been calling for reparations and named them as a requirement for peace negotiations with Russia. The damage to the Ukrainian economy, including the lost opportunity cost, was estimated by the Ukrainian government at an earlier meeting in July to be $750 billion. According to some analyses, the real damage to homes and infrastructure alone is now costing $180 billion and growing.
In his video address, Zelenskiy stated that “the reparations that Russia will have to pay for what it has done are now part of the global legal reality.”
Russia tried to destroy Ukraine – Kyslytsya
Before the vote, Sergiy Kyslytsya, the ambassador of Ukraine to the UN, told the General Assembly that Russia had “tried to destroy Ukraine – in a very literal sense,” and had hit everything from factories to homes and hospitals.
The ambassador also highlighted accusations of crimes against humanity done by Russians in territories they controlled, notably the massacre at Bucha, and in Izyum. These war crimes included murder, rape, torture, forced deportations, and looting.
“Ukraine will have the hard task of rebuilding the country and recovering from this war,” Kyslytsya said. “However, without a sense of justice for the Russian war victims, the recovery will never be complete. The moment has come to hold Russia responsible.”
Before the voting, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s UN ambassador, informed the General Assembly that the resolution’s provisions are “legally null” and that they “were an attempt to legalize something that from the perspective of existing international law cannot be legalized.” He pleaded with nations to abstain.
“The West is trying to draw out and worsen the conflict and plans to use Russian money for it,” Nebenzia said, as cited by Reuters.
Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the UN, told the audience, “It will take a wide international commitment to support Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction to build a safe and prosperous future for the Ukrainian people.” “However, only one nation – Russia – is to blame for the damage done to Ukraine, and it is proper, as this resolution specifies Russia pay reparations for that damage.”
The resolution emphasizes UN Charter Article 14, which grants the General Assembly the power to “recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation… which it considers likely to damage the general welfare of friendly relations among nations,” including violations of the Charter.