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U.N. to vote on suspending Russia from Human Rights Council over Ukraine

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(Last Updated On: April 7, 2022)

The United Nations General Assembly will vote on Thursday on a U.S. push to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by invading Russian troops in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – can suspend a country from the 47-member council. Libya was suspended in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

According to Reuters western diplomats are confident they have enough support among the 193-member General Assembly to adopt a resolution to suspend Moscow. The draft text expresses “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” particularly at reports of rights abuses by Russia.

Explaining the move, announced on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters: “It is important to say (to Russia) ‘we’re not going to allow you to continue to act with such impunity and pretend that you respect human rights’.”

Russia has warned countries that a yes vote or abstention will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties, according to a note seen by Reuters.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Russia with 141 and 140 votes in favor. Moscow says it is carrying out a “special operation” to demilitarize Ukraine.

The United States announced it would seek Russia’s suspension after Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, Reuters reported.

Russia denies attacking civilians in Ukraine. U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Tuesday that while Bucha was under Russian control “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence.”

Russia is in its second year of a three-year term on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which cannot make legally binding decisions. Its decisions send important political messages, however, and it can authorize investigations, read the report.

Last month the council opened an investigation into allegations of rights violations, including possible war crimes, in Ukraine since Russia’s attack.

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Ukrainian forces advance in south as Russia yields on second front

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(Last Updated On: October 3, 2022)

Ukrainian forces were reported to be recapturing towns along the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine on Monday, with Moscow forced to yield territory along a second major front line just days after claiming to have annexed it.

The scale of the Ukrainian advance was unconfirmed, with Kyiv maintaining all but complete silence about the situation in the area. But Russian military bloggers described a Ukrainian tank advance through dozens of kilometers of territory along the bank of the river, Reuters reported.

In one of the rare comments by a Ukrainian official on the situation, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior ministry, posted what he said was video of a Ukrainian soldier waving a flag in Zolota Balka, downriver from the former front line.

Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think-tank, cited Russian bloggers as reporting their forces falling back as far as Dudchany – 40 km (25 miles) downriver from where they had opposed Ukrainian troops a day earlier.

“When this many Russian channels are sounding the alarm, it usually means they’re in trouble,” he wrote on Twitter.

A Ukrainian advance along the Dnipro river could trap thousands of Russian troops on the far side, cut off from all supplies. The river is enormously wide, and Ukraine has already destroyed the major crossings.

The reports were the first to describe a rapid Ukrainian advance in the south of the country since the war began, and come just a day after Ukraine routed Russian troops in a major bastion, Lyman, on the opposite end of the front in the east.

The advances in the east and the south – some of the biggest of the war so far – have all taken place in territory that President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed from Ukraine only on Friday, with a celebratory concert by the Kremlin walls.

They also come amid reports of chaos in a mobilisation ordered less than two weeks ago by Putin, which has seen tens of thousands of Russian men suddenly called up into the military and tens of thousands of others fleeing abroad.

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Ukraine celebrates recapturing key town, Putin ally raises nuclear jitters

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(Last Updated On: October 2, 2022)

Ukrainian troops said they had retaken the key bastion of Lyman in occupied eastern Ukraine, a stinging defeat that prompted a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for the possible use of low-grade nuclear weapons.

The capture on Saturday came just a day after Putin proclaimed the annexation of nearly a fifth of Ukraine – including Donetsk, where Lyman is located – and placed the regions under Russia’s nuclear umbrella. Kyiv and the West condemned the ornate ceremony as an illegitimate farce, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian soldiers announced the capture in a video recorded outside the town council building in the centre of Lyman and posted on social media.

“Dear Ukrainians – today the armed forces of Ukraine … liberated and took control of the settlement of Lyman, Donetsk region,” one of the soldiers says. At the end of the video, a group of soldiers cheer and throw Russian flags down from the building’s roof and raise a Ukrainian flag in their place.

Hours earlier, Russia’s defence ministry had announced it was pulling troops out of the area “in connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement”.

Lyman had fallen in May to Russian forces, which had used it as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its capture is Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since the lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised more quick successes in the Donbas, which covers the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are largely under Russian control.

“Over the past week, the number of Ukrainian flags in Donbas has increased. There will be even more a week’s time,” he said in an evening video address.

Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement on Sunday morning that its jets had carried out 29 strikes in the past 24 hours, destroying weapons and anti-aircraft missile systems, while ground troops had hit command posts, warehouses containing ammunition and anti-aircraft missile complexes.

Russian forces launched four missiles and 16 air strikes and used Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones to attack infrastructure, Ukraine’s statement said, adding more than 30 settlements were damaged, chiefly in the south and southeast.

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G7 ministers threaten “economic costs on Russia” over Ukrainian annexation

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2022)

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries condemned Russia’s proclaimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Friday as a “new low point” in the war and vowed to take further action against Moscow, Reuters reported.

“We will never recognise these purported annexations, nor the sham ‘referenda’ conducted at gunpoint,” said a statement from the top diplomats of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

“We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities – inside and outside of Russia – that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law,” it added.

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