Russia invades Ukraine: UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

Russia invades Ukraine: UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council
The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine
12 min read
07 April, 2022

The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.

Of the 193 members of the assembly, 93 voted in favor of suspension as proposed by the United States while 24 voted against and 58 abstained, suggesting weakening international unity against Russia at the United Nations.

It was the second ever suspension of a country from the council. Libya was the first, in 2011.

G7 top diplomats earlier on Thursday denounced what they describe as atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Ukraine, as Moscow's invasion of Kyiv enters its second month. The foreign ministers added that those "responsible would be held accountable for their actions".

Russian forces are accused of killing 300 people in the town of Bucha, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of Kyiv, where 50 people were said to be executed. Moscow has denied the accusations.

The G7 ministers, as well as the High Representative of the European Union  affirmed their position in a statement published in the UK.

The UK's prime minister Boris Johnson labelled Russia's attacks on Ukrainian civilians as a "systematic slaughter" of innocent people on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has called on NATO members to send more heavy weaponry to Kyiv "before it's too late", as the Russian offensive continues.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a priority for Ukraine is more weaponry, as it pushes Russian forces further away from the capital Kyiv.

"My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it. Its weapons, weapons, and weapons," Kuleba said, ahead of a meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

"I call on all allies to put aside their hesitations, their reluctance, to provide Ukraine with everything it needs," he said.

Ukraine will seek heavy weaponry - including air defence systems, artillery, armoured vehicles and jets - from its NATO allies during Thursday's meeting.

The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

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12:02 AM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab's live coverage of the latest on the Ukraine-Russia crisis concludes for today.

Join us tomorrow for the latest news and analysis on Ukraine-Russia.

Make sure to follow our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.

11:58 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia gave the most damning assessment so far of its invasion, describing the "tragedy" of mounting troop losses and the economic hit from sanctions as Ukrainians were evacuated from eastern cities before an anticipated major offensive.

In a symbolic move, the United Nations General Assembly suspended it from the U.N. Human Rights Council, expressing "grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis." Russia then quit the council.

Ukraine called on allies to stop buying Russian oil and gas, amid divisions in Europe, and to boost it militarily.

"Ukraine needs weapons which will give it the means to win on the battlefield and that will be the strongest possible sanction against Russia," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video late on Thursday.

Ukraine also accused Hungary of undermining EU unity after Budapest said it was prepared to pay rubles for Russian gas, a Kremlin demand that most in the West had resisted.

10:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday warned that the situation in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka is "significantly more dreadful" than in nearby Bucha.

The killing of civilians in the town of Bucha have been widely condemned by the West as war crimes, increasing pressure for stricter sanctions against Russia.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace negotiations.

Bombing has left wide-scale destruction in Borodyanka [Getty]
8:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The "new mayor" of Mariupol, put in place by pro-Russian forces, announced Thursday that around 5,000 civilians had died in the southeastern Ukrainian city which has been under siege for weeks by the Russian army and separatist allies.

"Around 60-70 percent of the housing stock has been destroyed or partially destroyed," said Konstantin Ivashchenko, who was named as the town's mayor on Wednesday by Denis Pushilin, leader of the separatists in the breakaway Donetsk region.

Mariupol has been under Russian siege for weeks [Getty]
7:37 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

More than 4.3 million Ukrainians have now fled their country since the Russian invasion, the United Nations said Thursday.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,319,494 Ukrainians had fled across the border since the war began on February 24, a figure up 40,705 since Wednesday.

The UN's International Organization for Migration estimates that 7.1 million internally displaced people had fled their homes but were still in Ukraine.

The IOM says that in addition to Ukrainian refugees, more than 210,000 non-Ukrainians living, studying or working in the country have also left.

This means that in total, more than a quarter of the population have been forced to flee their homes.

More than a quarter of the population have been forced to flee their homes [Getty]
7:30 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova on Thursday said 26 bodies had been found under two ruined buildings in the Kyiv region town of Borodianka, which is been being searched by the authorities after Russian troops occupying it withdrew.

In a televised briefing, Venediktova did not say if the authorities had established the cause of death, but she accused Russian troops of carrying out air strikes on the town before they seized control of it.

"Borodianka is the worst in terms of destruction and in terms of the uncertainty about (the number of) victims," she said.

7:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Russia had sustained "significant losses" in Ukraine.

"We have significant losses of troops," Peskov told the British channel Sky News in an interview, "and it's a huge tragedy for us."

Russia's defence ministry said on March 25, its most recent update, that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the campaign, and 3,825 had been wounded.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said two days later that at least 10,000 Russian soldiers had probably been killed.

Peskov called it a "huge tragedy" [Getty]
6:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine's Prosecutor General said on Thursday that 26 bodies were found under two ruined buildings in the Kyiv region town of Borodianka, which is been being searched by the authorities after Russian troops occupying it withdrew.

In a televised briefing, Iryna Venediktova did not say if the authorities indicated the cause of death, but she accused Russian troops of carrying out air strikes on the town before they seized control of it.

"Borodianka is the worst in terms of destruction and in terms of the uncertainty about (the number of) victims," she said.

Russian continously denies targeting civilians. 

6:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

The US Secretary of State Antony said Thursday it is likely that Russian forces are carrying out more "atrocities" in parts of Ukraine after bodies were found in the town of Bucha.

Anthony Blinken said that "for every Bucha there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns that it is still occupying, places where we must assume Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now".

Blinken made the statement to journalists after meeting foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

5:06 PM

France has summoned its Russian envoy on Thursday to the Foreign Ministry in Paris after his embassy tweeted a picture alleging the existence of a ‘film set’ in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where the killing of over 300 civilians has been decried worldwide.

The tweet, which has since been deleted, seemed to show people preparing to shoot a film, with the caption "Film set, Bucha town" corresponding with the image.

The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"In the face of the indecency and provocation of the communication of the Russian embassy in France on the acts perpetrated in Bucha, I have decided to summon the ambassador of Russia," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

It is the third time in several weeks that Paris has called in the envoy. The embassy previously posted a picture depicting a body lying on a table called "Europe" with characters representing the United States and European Union jabbing needles into it.

4:33 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey said on Thursday that images of bodies found in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and other areas near Kyiv in the wake of a Russian pullback, have “casted a dark cloud over recent talks between Russia and Ukraine”.

"The images from Bucha, Irpin and other regions are unacceptable. These scenes have overshadowed the negotiations," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said to reporters after a NATO meeting in Brussels.

NATO member Turkey, which has friendly diplomatic ties with Russia and Ukraine, has been mediating between the two countries for an end to the war.

The Turkish foreign minister affirmed on Thursday that negotiations will still be ongoing, adding that Russia and Ukraine looked "warmly" towards Turkey hosting another round of negotiations.

3:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

NATO members have agreed to bolster support to Ukraine and to provide a wide range of weaponry to Kyiv, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared on Thursday following a meeting of foreign ministers.

The Secretary General also said  at a news conference that the weaponry discussed will  javelins and other anti-tank weapons," adding that ammunition, medical supplies and "high-end" weapons systems would also be taken into consideration.

Stoltenberg also told the press that NATO members are in agreement to do more to help other partners and shore up their ability to defend themselves, including Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

The G7 is seeking to pile pressure on Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The forum consisting of the world's leading liberal democracies has called on the UN to expel Russia from its human rights body over massacres in Ukraine.

Russia was part of the G8 until it was expelled over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

2:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

German intelligence services intercepted radio messages from Russian military sources talking over the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Thursday.

The German magazine said the services presented the findings in parliament on Wednesday, while keeping the source of the information anonymous.

Der Spiegel said that that the exchanged radio messages between Russian armed forces corresponded with Ukrainian civilian deaths, where one soldier can be heard discussing shooting someone off their bicycle. Soon after, a body was photographed near the bicycle.

Bucha, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of Kyiv, has been besieged by Russian forces for more than a month following Moscow’s military aggression on Ukraine on 24 February.

Local officials state that more than 300 people were killed, including 50 that were executed, and has accused Russia of ‘genocide’, which Moscow has denied.

12:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

The European Parliament on Thursday has called for an effective and official ban on Russian imports of oil, gas, fuel and coal, in the latest series on sanctions of Russian goods amid Moscow's military aggression on Ukraine.

413 EU parliament members voted in favour of the move, out of 552 participants.

11:33 AM
The New Arab Staff

Syrian artist Aziz Al-Asmar is using his creative talent to spread knowledge of atrocities committed by the Assad regime and to stand in solidarity with other acts of injustice across the world, including Ukraine.

The Idlib-based artists has painted murals on the side of homes destroyed in Russian and Syrian regime air strikes. This includes murals commemorating massacres in Ukraine.

Read more about the artist here.

Live Story
11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Evacuation attempts from eastern Ukraine have been in progress since Thursday as authorities alerted civilians of an imminent Russian offensive, as Moscow's aggression on Ukraine continues. 

Russian troops have been withdrawing from around the capital Kyiv and the country's north, where much has been destroyed, as they advance on the country's southeast.

Local officials in Donbas' Lugansk and Donetsk are pleading with civilians to leave the region "while it's still possible", as the region is already experiencing incoming shelling. President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia was persistent and continued "to accumulate fighting force to realise their ill ambitions in (eastern) Donbas".

"They are preparing to resume an active offensive," he added.

9:43 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine has slammed Hungary for its willingness to pay Russia for its gas in roubles, following sanctions on Moscow.

Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said the "unfriendly" stance was destroying EU unity over Russia's invasion of his country.

Hungary Prime Minister Victor Orban's recent election win was praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Orban has said Hungary would be willing to pay for Russian gas in roubles - a key demand of Moscow.

9:38 AM
The New Arab Staff

Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt has made a passionate call for full sanctions on Russia during a European Parliament meeting.

Verhofstadt, a key figure in Brexit negotiations, said the current EU policy of incremental sanctions on Russia has failed, and a full embargo - including gas sales - must be implemented, in support of Ukraine.

He singled out Germany for particular blame, due to the country's continued dealings with Moscow on energy issues.

9:22 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine is calling for its Western allies to provide it with more heavy weaponry, including tanks, anti-aircraft systems, and fighter jets as NATO members meet in Brussels on Thursday.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made the plea as Russian forces mass in the east, which analysts say is in preparation for a new offensive.

Russian forces have withdrawn from areas around the capital Kyiv, amid a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Kuleba said NATO must do more to halt the Russian offensive.