WHO condemns Russia’s aggression in Ukraine in rare vote, rejects Moscow’s counter-proposal

  • The first resolution condemns Russia’s aggression
  • Russia responds with a diplomatic tac au tac
  • China backs Moscow in both WHO votes
  • WHO reports 235 attacks on healthcare in Ukraine

GENEVA, May 26 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization assembly on Thursday passed a motion condemning the regional health emergency sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rejected a rival Moscow resolution who made no mention of his own role in the crisis.

The initial proposal, put forward by the United States and about 50 others, condemned Russia’s actions but stopped short of immediately suspending its voting rights at the United Nations health agency, as some had asked before.

Both resolutions expressed “serious concern about the ongoing health emergency in and around Ukraine”, but only the Western-led proposal indicates that the emergency is “triggered by the aggression of the Russian Federation against the ‘Ukraine”.

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Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, called Russia’s counter-proposal a “twisted alternative reality”. “The Russian Federation has failed in its cynical attempt to deceive this forum,” she said of the result. Read more

Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Alexander Alimov called the Western proposal “politicized, one-sided and biased” compared to his own “constructive” proposal. “Manipulating the WHO is not acceptable,” he said of the result.

China backed Moscow in both votes, with its envoy Yang Zhilun saying the WHO was not the right forum to discuss Ukraine’s health issues. Read more


Twin votes, rare at WHO meetings, are unlikely to have an immediate impact on the conflict, but are seen as an increasingly rare multilateral endorsement of Kyiv’s position more than three months after the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

But while the Western-backed proposal passed with 88 votes in favor and 12 against, it was not a resounding success and there were dozens of abstentions and no-shows among the 194 WHO members. .

WHO Europe member states have already passed a resolution that could lead to the closure of the Russia regional office. Read more

Diplomats said this time they feared pushing Russia too far and prompting it to resign, given the need to cooperate with the WHO on disease surveillance. Support for political condemnations of Russia has also faded, they said, with Western countries seen by some as too narrowly focused on targeting Russia at the expense of other issues.

The resolutions are accompanied by a report by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, which highlights the “devastating” health consequences of the Russian invasion, including 235 attacks on health care as well as mass casualties and life-threatening disruptions to health services.

Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say that Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

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Written by Emma Farge; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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