India abstains on vote to call emergency UN General Assembly session on Ukraine

PTI  | Deccan Chronicle

Nation, Current Affairs

India says no other choice but to return to path of diplomacy

The United Nations Security Council meets at the UN Headquarters in New York City on February 27, 2022. (Andrea Renault/AFP / AFP)

United Nations: For the second time in as many days, India abstained on a UN Security Council resolution to convene a rare emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Russia's aggression against Ukraine, even as New Delhi asserted that there is no other choice but to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue to settle the Ukraine crisis.

The 15-nation Council met Sunday afternoon to vote on a procedural resolution to refer the Ukrainian situation to an emergency session of the 193-member UN General Assembly.

India, China and the UAE abstained while Russia voted against the resolution and 11 Council members - Albania, Brazil, France, Gabon, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States - voted in favour. It was the second time since Friday that India abstained in the Council on a resolution on the Ukraine crisis.

The vote calling for the UNGA session was procedural so none of the five permanent members of the Council - China, France, Russia, UK and the US - could exercise their vetoes. The resolution was adopted, paving the way for the General Assembly to meet on the worsening crisis on Monday morning.

The voting record in the Council Sunday was the same as that on Friday, with India, China and the UAE abstaining, Russia using its veto and 11 Council members voting in favour.

The procedural resolution said that the Council has decided to call an emergency special session of the General Assembly to examine the Ukraine crisis after taking into account that the “lack of unanimity” of its permanent members at the Friday meeting prevented it from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

In the explanation of the vote, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said it is “regrettable” that the situation in Ukraine has worsened further since the Council last convened on this matter on Friday.

He reiterated India's call for an immediate cessation of violence and an end to all hostilities, underlining that “there is no other choice but to return back to the path of diplomacy and dialogue.”

Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advocated this strongly in his recent conversations with the Russian and Ukrainian leadership, Tirumurti said, “We welcome today's announcement by both sides to hold talks at the Belarus border.”

In his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Modi reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialogue and expressed India's willingness to contribute in any way towards peace efforts.

In the telephonic call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi reiterated his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue. He appealed for an immediate cessation of violence and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue.

Tirumurti also said that India continues to be deeply concerned about the safety and security of its nationals, including a large number of Indian students, who are still stranded in Ukraine.

“Our evacuation efforts have been adversely impacted by the complex and uncertain situation at the border crossings. It is important to maintain an uninterrupted and predictable movement of people. It is an urgent humanitarian necessity that must be immediately addressed,” Tirumurti said.

“Taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances, we have decided to abstain,” he said.

“The global order is anchored on international law, the UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. We are all agreed on these principles,” he said.

While a UNSC resolution would have been legally binding and General Assembly resolution are not, vote in the Assembly is symbolic of world opinion on the crisis.

With the adoption of the resolution by the UN Security Council, it was for the first time in 40 years that the Council decided to call for an emergency special session in the UN General Assembly. This will be only the 11th such emergency session of the General Assembly since 1950.

Following the decision taken in the Security Council, President of the 76th session of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid tweeted that he will preside over the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Monday morning.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in the Council Sunday that the Security Council has taken an “important step” forward toward holding Russia accountable.

“For the first time in decades, it has called for an Emergency Special Session in the General Assembly. The Council members who supported this resolution recognise that this is no ordinary moment. We need to take extraordinary actions to meet this threat to our international system and do everything we can to help Ukraine and its people,” she said.

The US envoy said President Putin put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, even though he is invading a country with no nuclear weapons and is under no threat from NATO, a defensive alliance that will not fight in Ukraine.

Ukraine's envoy at the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya said that those Council members who see no reason in supporting the request to have the emergency UNGA session should know that most Ukrainian cities are now constantly hearing warnings of air raids and they should look at the pictures and footage of what happened afterwards.

Elaborating on other consequences of violence across Ukraine, he voiced extreme alarm at Russia's “nuclear blackmail”, a threat he said the world must take very seriously.

Russia's envoy at the UN and Council President for February Vassily Nebenzia, spoke in his national capacity, saying that each permanent member has a right to use the veto for such specific reasons as achieving global stability.

He also urged members to stop aiding and abetting the current social media misinformation war against the Russian Federation.

“We hear lies and deceit about the indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian facilities, hospitals and schools” when “the Russian army does not threaten civilians in Ukraine; it does not shell civilian infrastructure”, Nebenzia said.

During the Security Council meeting, many members sought diplomatic efforts to peacefully settle the Ukraine crisis, and said they would be watching Ukraine-Russia meeting expected to take place on Monday. 

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