The U.N. General Assembly convened an emergency session Wednesday in an effort to adopt a resolution urging Russia to halt its offensives in Ukraine.

The extraordinary high-level meeting of the 193-member assembly, which was requested by 11 countries including Japan as well as the European Union, comes before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of its neighboring country.

Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2023, shows tombs of the unknown in Bucha, near Kyiv. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"Invasion is an affront to our collective conscience," U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a speech to the assembly. "It is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law."

"Ukrainians, Russians and people far beyond need peace," Guterres said.

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Japan and Western countries, calls for the "achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine" through the cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of Russian troops, whose military campaign began on Feb. 24 last year.

The resolution "demands" that Russia stop its attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.

Resolutions passed by the General Assembly are not legally binding but are viewed as sending a political message.

The vote on the resolution, which is expected to take place Thursday, will be a key test of the world body's support for Ukraine.

An overwhelming vote in favor of the resolution could be seen as further isolating Russia. Since the war started, only a minority of the assembly has voted against resolutions condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine.

While 143 countries voted to condemn Russia's annexation of four regions of Ukraine last October, 94 voted in favor of another resolution the following month to establish a mechanism for reparations to the war-torn country. The resolutions were both adopted.

"This is not somehow about choosing between the United States and Russia," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters ahead of the session. "This is about defending the U.N. Charter, this is about doing our part to end the scourge of war, and this is about reaffirming one of this institution's core principles country cannot take the territory of another by force."

Since the Security Council has been stymied by veto-wielding Russia, the General Assembly is seen by Western diplomats as the main vehicle for passing resolutions on Ukraine. Unlike in the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the world body's assembly.

A ministerial-level meeting on Ukraine is expected to occur in the Security Council on Friday with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in attendance.

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