Hours after Russia launched large-scale air strikes in Ukraine, the two nations dueled in the United Nations General Assembly ahead of a likely vote this week on whether to condemn Moscow's move to annex partially-occupied regions in Ukraine.
Late Monday, the audience reaction summed up the initial results: Ukraine's UN Ambassador received applause while Russia's delegate was met with silence.
Ukraine’s Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya opened his remarks by saying, "My day started almost 14 hours ago because my country was under attack" and described his family sheltering in a building.
“My immediate family was in a residential building under attack, unable to go to a bomb shelter because there was no electricity. Because Russia has already killed some of my family members and we see no end to that cruelty," Kyslytsya said.
A debate of more than 66 speakers is expected to lead to a vote on a resolution strongly condemning Russia’s annexation and declaring them illegal under international law.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he saw dangerous cynicism in the room with countries ganging up on Moscow, and he scoffed at nations who accused his country of breaching the charter by invading Ukraine.
Earlier, the General Assembly soundly defeated a Russian bid to allow the vote on the annexation to be carried out by secret ballot. The vote in favor of a non-secret ballot was 107 nations. Thirteen were opposed. Thirty-nine nations abstained.