India was among four countries that abstained on a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemning the so-called referenda organised by Russia across four regions of Ukraine. Hours before Friday afternoon’s voting in New York, Russian President Vladimir Putin “annexed” four regions inside Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders ¬ Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk ¬ based on the results of Russian-organised referenda in these regions.
The UNSC resolution, sponsored by the United States and Albania, failed to pass the 15-member Council on Friday afternoon, despite winning ten supporting votes, after Russia used a veto to block it. A similar resolution is likely to be introduced in the U.N. General Assembly – where Russia does not have a veto - in the near future.
The resolution condemns the referenda , calls on the international community not to recognise any alterations to Ukraine’s territory and calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. The other abstaining countries at Friday’s voting were China, Brazil and Gabon.
India abstained on the resolution “keeping in view the totality of the evolving situation” , its Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UNPR), Ruchira Kamboj said. Other countries abstaining were China, Brazil and Gabon.
India was “deeply disturbed” by the recent events in Ukraine, Ms. Kamboj said, as she explained India’s abstention vote and called for an immediate cessation of violence.
Call for negotiations
“We’ve always advocated that no solution can ever be arrived at the cost of human lives,” she said.
The path to peace involved dialogue and keeping open diplomatic channels, Ms. Kamboj said, as she repeated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that now as not the era for war.
She said the global order was based on the U.N. Charter, international law and the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
An escalation in rhetoric was not in anybody’s interest, Ms Kamboj said, as she stressed the importance of returning to negotiations.
“We therefore sincerely hope for an early resumption of peace talks to bring about an immediate ceasefire and resolution of the conflict,” she said.
The U.S. , one of the sponsors of the resolution, had earlier in the week said it would seek action against Russia at the General Assembly, if Russia vetoed the resolution in the Council.
“Do you seriously expect Russia to consider and support such a draft?,” Russia’s UNPR Vasily Nebenzya said after the vote on Friday, accusing the proposers of the draft resolution of intentionally pushing Russia to exercise its veto.
He said the Security Council forum was being used as a “dress rehearsal for the main performance” in the U.N. General Assembly.
He accused Washington of double standards over Taiwan, making a reference to its readiness to use force to protect Taiwan.
Ukraine, represented by its UNPR, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called the Security Council a “broken” pillar of the United Nations. He devoted a large part of his remarks to questioning the legitimacy of Russia as the Soviet Union’s successor state on the Security Council.
“Allowing Russia to avail itself of the right of the Soviet Union to veto decisions of the Security Council effectively prevents this body from exercising its primary responsibility under the UN Charter: maintenance of international peace and security,” he said.
Mr. Kyslytsya thanked, by name, each country that voted for the resolution.
Speaking to the Council, the U.S.’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the referenda were held “behind the barrel of Russian guns”.
Countries recognize the implications for their own borders and economies when the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity was set aside, Ms Greenfield Thomas said, adding that now was not the time to “stand on the sidelines”.
China , which has a border dispute with India and has taken an increasingly aggressive position in Asia with regard to territorial claims, stressed the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and said that the U.N. Charter followed.
Its UNPR, Zhang Jun, stressed that the “legitimate security concerns” of all parties should be taken seriously and urged a diplomatic solution and political settlement to the conflict.
Significantly, China, which itself has been and continues to be the subject of U.S. and European sanctions (for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong for example), said that “political isolation”, “pressurisation” , “block confrontation” and “sanctions” are not conducive to peace but make the situation worse.
“It is unreasonable to assume that populations in areas of conflict, are able to freely express their will,” Brazil’s UNPR Ronaldo Costa Filho, said, adding that under the current circumstances the referenda cannot be considered legitimate.
However, Mr. Filho said that the resolution’s “scope and language do not favour an environment conducive to a solution” and were a repetition of the same dynamics of the past months. The speed of the process did not also permit adequate consultation with national capitals, according to Mr Filho.
During her remarks Ms. Thomas-Greenfield had said that several UNSC members had told the U.S. that the process at the Security Council was “rushed”.
“Let me be clear, what was rushed was the Russian illegal act to annex Ukrainian territory. As a council, we had to respond,” she said.
Gabon did not provide a reason for its abstention but said that it supported the U.N. Charter, was against war and called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
The U.K.’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Barbara Woodward said that while USNC members had voted in different way, not a single one (barring Russia) recognised Russia’s actions to annex parts of Ukraine.
“The international system is being assaulted in front of our eyes,” she said.