NEW YORK, Feb 24 — Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia at the UN General Assembly yesterday of ignoring the will of the world as more than 50 countries stood with Kyiv to oppose the invasion.

The meeting was held as Ukraine prepares to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion while vital military aid remains blocked by the US Congress and Russia is emboldened by fresh gains in recent weeks.

Despite speeches by prominent Western foreign ministers, there will be no vote on the conflict as there was last year as the UN is preoccupied by the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

This time a year ago the General Assembly called for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops with an overwhelming majority of member states, 141 countries, voting in favour with just seven against.

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But a diplomatic source told AFP that the “mood has changed” over the past year and that “Arab countries will remember how Ukraine voted on Gaza” after Kyiv abstained on votes calling for an immediate ceasefire in the General Assembly.

“Russia ignores the will of the global majority. It continues its aggression, and throws more and more men into the flames of war,” Kuleba said.

“We can also see that in these two years, global security has only deteriorated. More and more wars and conflicts are flaring up across the globe. One of the reasons for this is the bleeding wound in the heart of Europe.”

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Kuleba said Ukraine was “actively working” to prepare for a global peace summit to be hosted in Switzerland, but Russia called the initiative “futile.”

Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis invited all member states to join the talks which he said should be held before the summer.

On the side of the Ukraine

But Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya dismissed the initiative as useless.

“One should not waste time on Kyiv’s futile plans to negotiate on the basis of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky’s so-called ‘peace formula’,” he said.

“It’s nothing other than an ultimatum and attempt to lure as many countries as possible into endless meetings on this utopian project at any price possible.”

Later, speaking on behalf of some 50 mostly Western countries, Kuleba called on “Russia to stop its war of aggression against Ukraine and to ensure the full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian forces.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security council that “the war in Ukraine remains an open wound at the heart of Europe... enough.”

Ukraine relies on Western military backing to defend itself against Russian attacks, which have accelerated as Moscow seeks to take advantage of Kyiv’s stretched resources on the battlefield.

Western leaders are descending on the country this weekend in a show of support for Kyiv as the war grinds on and two years of fighting a bigger and richer army takes a toll on Ukraine’s stretched forces.

“This assembly has demonstrated on numerous occasions that the global majority stands on the side of Ukraine,” Kuleba said. — AFP