By Okech Francis
South Sudan abstained from voting on a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, condemning Russia over a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, an action lauded as “wise.”
In an emergency session of the UN’s general assembly on Wednesday, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained, and five voted against.
The resolution deplored Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces, in a global expression of outrage that highlighted Russia’s increasing isolation.
The only countries to vote no in support of Moscow were Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. Longstanding allies Cuba and Nicaragua, India and China were part of the countries which abstained.
Early this week, diplomats of western nations urged South Sudan to condemn the invasion and vote against it.
South Sudan’s abstinence “was the best move” undertaken at the moment because the Russian invasion of Ukraine is “a show of power dynamics” of the western world expected “to promote a proxy war between the world powers even if that war is going to end,” Prof Abraham Kuol Nyuon, a political analyst at the University of Juba told Juba Echo by phone on Thursday.
“This means if South Sudan votes to support the Ukraine invasion, this will be against the US and this will be against Ukraine and their allies in the NATO and if South Sudan votes opposing the invasion, then the Russians which have been seen as a sympathizer for South Sudan for sometimes now and having supported South Sudan before, that one will make them to be aggressive to South Sudan,” Nyuon said.
“It was better to assume a neutral ground so that South Sudan can maintain diplomatic relations with Russia and at the same time with America,” he said.
“So they were wise to maintain a neutral ground to have a chance to justify to any group their action.”
Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, vetoed a Security Council resolution last month that would have required it to withdraw from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N., Sergiy Kyslytsya, called the vote “one of the building blocks to build a wall to stop” Russia’s invasion of his country.
Moscow, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea condemned the resolution as a hypocritical signal from the West.
It said the UN “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.
It demanded that “the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces”.
The resolution is not legally binding, but is an expression of the views of the UN membership, aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow and its ally, Belarus.
“It isn’t going to stop Russian forces in their stride, but it’s a pretty enormous diplomatic win for the Ukrainians and the US, and everyone who has got behind them,” Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group, said.