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Russia raps UNESCO’s decision on Ukraine’s Odessa as ‘politically motivated’

UNESCO's headquarters in Paris

Russia has decried a decision by the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, to add the historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odesa to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the designation, saying the only threat to Odesa comes from the "nationalist regime in Ukraine" amid the war.

The Foreign Ministry said, "It was prepared hastily, without respecting the current high standards of UNESCO," calling the vote "politically motivated".

It delivered the rebuke in a statement after Moscow failed to postpone the vote, which was approved by only six votes in favor, one against, and 14 abstentions. The voting held at a UNESCO panel meeting in Paris on Wednesday.

UNESCO's Director-General Audrey Azoulay claimed the vote "reflects our collective determination to protect this city from greater destruction."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had no quarrel with the decision to celebrate and protect Odesa's legacy.

"But this requires a clarification that the sole threat to the city's rich history stems from Ukraine's nationalist regime which systematically destroys monuments to the founders and defenders of Odesa," it said in the statement.

It cited in particular a monument to Russian Empress Catherine the Great - widely reputed to be the city's founder - that was dismantled by an order of city authorities last year.

Russia started "the military campaign" in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev, and also to "de-Nazify" its neighbor.

Ukraine's war efforts are backed strongly by Kiev's Western allies, which have been arming the ex-Soviet republic with heavy weaponry since the start of the conflict.   

Moscow has said the West’s pumping Ukraine full of weapons would only prolong the conflict, and preclude dialog.

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