The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the global body’s Human Rights Council as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.
The high-profile rebuke of Moscow marked only the second ever suspension of a country from the council — Libya was the first, in 2011 — and it earned praise from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his American counterpart Joe Biden.
The expulsion confirmed Moscow as an “international pariah,” Biden said in a searing statement that addressed what he called “horrifying” images from Ukrainian towns like Bucha, where Russian forces are accused of atrocities against civilians.
“Russia’s lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine,” Biden said.
“The signs of people being raped, tortured, executed — in some cases having their bodies desecrated — are an outrage to our common humanity.”
Zelensky, who has longed called for a tougher international position against Moscow, applauded the UN move as “an important step,” describing it on Twitter as “another punishment for RF’s (Russia’s) aggression” against Ukraine.
Of the 193 members of the General Assembly, 93 voted in favor of suspension as proposed by the United States, while 24 voted against. Fifty-eight abstained and the remainder did not participate, suggesting a weakening international unity against Russia at the United Nations.
Suspension required support from two-thirds of the member countries casting votes for or against; the abstentions and absences did not count.
Russia swiftly rejected the suspension, with its foreign ministry blasting the move as “illegal and politically motivated, aimed at ostentatiously punishing a sovereign UN member state that pursues an independent domestic and foreign policy.”