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Thursday, 3 March 2022

Egypt among 141 nations who called for Russian withdrawal from Ukraine at UN General Assembly

Egypt joined 140 other nations voting in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution calling on Russia to end fighting and withdraw its military forces from Ukraine. The vote — 141 in favor, 5 against, while 35 countries abstained — took place yesterday in a rare emergency session called by the UN Security Council. There are 193 members of the general assembly.

Like Egypt, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries backed Ukraine: The UAE (which abstained on a recent Security Council vote), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar all voted in favor of the resolution.

This was an acid test of our relations with the G7, whose ambassadors to Cairo issued a statement (pdf) earlier this week calling on Egypt to stand with Ukraine at the general assembly this week.

Who voted against? Russia, Belarus, Syria, Eritrea and North Korea.

Who abstained? Some of Russia’s closest diplomatic friends, including India, Cuba, Brazil, Serbia, Iran and Nicaragua. So did South Africa and Iraq.

But we’re not completely on board with sanctions: Egypt said it rejects economic sanctions “that are not based on the mechanisms of the multilateral international system” in a statement following its vote, warning that similar restrictions in the past resulted in “severe negative humanitarian effects.” Our officials warned against the economic and social effects of the current crisis “on the entire global economy, which is still suffering from the pandemic’s repercussions.”

(Yet another reminder that) Egypt is uniquely caught between the two sides here: Ukraine and Russia together account for up to 80% of our wheat supply and are about one third of our inbound tourism market. The two countries were once so close that when Moscow had cut off direct flights to our Red Sea destinations, Russians still streamed into Egypt via package tours that saw them transit through Ukraine. The return of Russian tourists after Moscow allowed direct flights to resume was key to the resurgence of our tourism industry last year.

ON THE GROUND-

Ukraine’s Kherson has become the first major city to fall into Moscow’s hands, the New York Times reported late last night. Russian troops have forced their way into the council building, Reuters quoted the Black Sea port city’s mayor as saying, after a day of conflicting reports. The country’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, suffered further heavy bombardment yesterday, including more airstrikes on residential areas.

Russia’s bid to take Kyiv has stalled so far amid strong resistance, but the capital was hit by several strikes yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

THE HUMAN TOLL-

Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged losses for the first time, reports the Wall Street Journal, saying that 498 Russian soldiers were killed and nearly 1.6k injured, and that Putin’s troops killed nearly 2.9k Ukrainian soldiers. Ukraine hasn’t released an official tally of its military casualties, but officials have put the civilian death toll at around 2k. The besieged country says its troops have killed around 5.8k Russian soldiers.

Over 870k people have now fled Ukraine, Reuters reports.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, said ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, after an “unprecedented” 39 member states sent in requests to fast track investigations.

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