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UN General Assembly calls on Russia to pull its troops out of Ukraine

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Russia is, quote, "isolated and alone." That's how the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations described the impact of today's vote in the General Assembly. The world body passed a resolution in a vote of 141 to 5, calling on Russia to pull its troops out of Ukraine. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Wearing a light-blue scarf and a yellow blouse, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called this an extraordinary moment. If the U.N. has any purpose, she said, it is to stop wars like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We stand together in holding Russia accountable for its violations of international law and to address the horrific human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes.

KELEMEN: She later told reporters that she would have hoped that some of the 35 nations that abstained would have voted instead to uphold the U.N. charter. The U.S. ambassador described this as a battle for the soul of the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Let us continue to come together to support the Ukrainian people. And let us demonstrate the true power and true purpose of the United Nations for all.

KELEMEN: The resolution deplores Russia's aggression and criticizes Belarus for its involvement. Russia and Belarus voted against the resolution, joined by North Korea, Syria and Eritrea. While Russia's ambassador said it would embolden what he called Ukrainian radicals and nationalists, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the message to Russia is loud and clear.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONIO GUTERRES: End hostilities in Ukraine now. Silence the guns now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy now.

KELEMEN: In Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he will be leaving for Europe Thursday. It's a trip mostly aimed at shoring up NATO allies in the Baltics and Poland. He will also visit Moldova, a former Soviet republic, where Russia maintains forces in a separatist region.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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