Western powers condemn Russia at environmental summit

NAIROBI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Major western powers on Friday evening condemned Russia for its invasion into Ukraine as officials gathered in Kenya for a high-level environmental summit.

The intervention at the United Nations Environmental Assembly came after Ukraine raised an objection to a technical resolution proposed by Russia, as a way to object to the country's attack and going against the U.N. charter.

Representatives of the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and New Zealand used their interventions to support Ukraine and condemn Russia, a sign that politics will overshadow talks in Nairobi, where discussion issues include a treaty to tackle plastic waste billed as the most important environmental pact since the Paris Agreement. read more

"The European Union and its member states condemn in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation's unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine," an EU representative said.

Monica Medina, the lead U.S. delegate, objected to Russia's resolution and criticized it for rejecting diplomacy and flouting international law. "The United States also stands in unity and solidarity with those facing the violence, catastrophic loss of life and suffering in Ukraine" she said.

Russia's technical proposal, which involved the regional make-up of United Nations environmental body UNEP, was one of several resolutions due to be presented for adoption at UNEA next week.

Russia's representative at the assembly responded to the objections by saying "it is our strong principled position not to mix environment and politics."

On Thursday, Ukraine's embassy in Kenya sent a letter to the United Nations Environment Programme - host of the UNEA summit - saying it wasimpossible to hold discussions on the Russian proposal due to "the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation to Ukraine" and "blatant violations of norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations".

Ukraine said it was "not in a position" to support Russia's proposal, meaning the resolution may fail to be adopted given the U.N. body has historically worked on a consensus basis.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this week sparked widespread condemnation and sanctions from the United States, Britain and the European Union.

Representatives from Russia have participated in preparatory talks this week in Nairobi ahead of the UNEA environmental summit due to start on Monday.

Reporting by John Geddie in Nairobi; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang

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