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Russia accuses Poland of ‘dangerous escalation’; Kadyrov says his forces ‘liberated’ Mariupol city hall; UN demands Russia end Ukraine war

By AFP
March 25, 2022

United Nations, United States: The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a new non-binding resolution that demanded an "immediate" halt to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

At UN headquarters in New York, 140 countries voted in favor, 38 abstained and five voted against the measure, with applause ringing out afterwards. The vote came after the adoption of a similar non-binding resolution on March 2 that demanded Russia immediately cease its use of force -- a vote that was approved by 141 countries.

On Wednesday Ukraine put forward the new resolution, originally prepared by France and Mexico, at an emergency session of the General Assembly. A competing text by South Africa, which never mentioned Russia by name, received only 50 votes for, 67 against and 36 abstentions, and was therefore not adopted.

The approved resolution specifically implicates Moscow and "demands an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular of any attacks against civilians and civilian objects."

The United States ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has described the resolution as "building" on the March 2 vote. She said it "makes that appeal to the one person with the ability to stop the violence. And that’s Vladimir Putin." On Wednesday Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council on the "humanitarian situation" in Ukraine -- but it was not adopted.

Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused Nato member Poland, which neighbours Ukraine, of escalating the situation in eastern Europe after it expelled 45 Russian diplomats over alleged espionage.

"Warsaw has embarked on a dangerous escalation in the region, proceeding not from national interests, but within the framework of Nato guidelines, which are based on outright Russophobia elevated to the rank of official policy," the ministry said in a statement.

"We see this and will take it into account in our practical steps towards Poland," it added. It said the expulsion of Russian diplomats announced a day earlier was a "conscious step" by Poland "towards the final destruction of bilateral ties".

"All responsibility for what is happening and for the possible consequences lies entirely with the current authorities in Warsaw," the ministry said. It warned that Moscow "will not leave this hostile attack without a response".

Poland said Wednesday it had expelled 45 "Russian spies pretending to be diplomats", an allegation immediately dismissed as baseless by Russia’s ambassador to Warsaw. Also on Wednesday, Poland’s counter-espionage service ABW announced it had detained a Polish national suspected of espionage for Russia’s secret services.

Meantime, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Thursday that forces from his Russian region had taken control of the city hall in Ukraine’s besieged southeastern port of Mariupol and hoisted the Russian flag.

Kadyrov posted on Telegram a video of a phone recording in Chechen, which he said was Russian parliamentary lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov speaking to "our valiant men". "The guys are radioing to say that they liberated the building of the Mariupol authorities and put up our flag over it," the Chechen leader said on his Telegram, which has more than 1.4 million subscribers.

The former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally wrote that Ukrainian "bandits who remained alive did not risk it and abandoned their positions... and fled". "Other units are moving in parallel through the city and clearing it of Azov filth," he added, referring to Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion.

"God willing, soon Mariupol will be completely cleansed," he wrote. In the besieged southern port, Zelensky says nearly 100,000 people are trapped without food, water or power and enduring fierce shelling by Russian forces.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry tweeted that Moscow had "launched a new phase of terror against Mariupol" by forcibly deporting about 6,000 residents to Russian camps. Kadyrov said on March 1 that Chechens had been killed in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

"Unfortunately, there are already losses among the natives of the Chechen Republic. Two died, six more were injured to varying degrees," Kadyrov said on Telegram. Kadyrov, in charge of Russia’s Chechnya Republic which he governs de-facto by his own set of rules, has posted videos of Chechen fighters in Ukraine.