India abstained on two resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday related to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. The first abstention was on a draft resolution proposed by Ukraine that held Russia responsible for the crisis.
The second was a procedural vote — on whether the UNGA ought to take up a second resolution, proposed by South Africa, for action at all. This resolution did not mention Russia. The first resolution was adopted with support from 140 countries and the second was not put to vote because it did not have sufficient support.
The draft version of Ukraine’s resolution named Russia, saying the UNGA “demands an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular of any attacks against civilians and civilian objects.”
The 140 countries that voted in its favour included the U.S. and European Union countries. India was among 38 abstentions, as were China, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Five countries voted against it: Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea.
“India abstained on the resolution since what we require now is to focus on cessation of hostilities and on urgent humanitarian assistance. The draft resolution did not fully reflect our expected focus on these challenges,” India’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UNPR), T.S. Tirumurti said in his ‘explanation of vote’ remarks.
Mr. Tirumurti was presumably referring to Ukraine’s resolution, since the South African one was not put to vote and the abstention there was at the procedural stage.
While he stopped short of naming Russia, Mr. Tirumurti said India emphasised a “need to respect the UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states”. He said India was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation and called an “immediate ceasefire”.
On Monday, India had abstained from a vote at the 15-member United Nations Security Council meeting, which failed to vote through a Russian backed resolution on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, that failed to mention the role Moscow had in the situation. That resolution was supported by just two countries: Russia and China.
Sixty seven countries voted against taking up the South African resolution on the situation in Ukraine for action by the UNGA. With 50 voting in favour and 36 abstentions, the resolution did not get a vote.
Prior to the vote, South Africa’s representative said that for some countries, the “humanitarian response is secondary to geopolitical objectives”, referring to the backing for the first resolution that was adopted.
Ukraine’s representative suggested that the South African draft resolution had been influenced by Russia and likened it to a placebo being given to a dying child, a “nameless, generic, inexpensive one, handed over to you by a big supplier”.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was at the United Nations on Wednesday, representing India at meetings as New Delhi has come under pressure — especially from the European Union and United States — to change its position on the Russia-Ukraine crisis by taking a strong position against Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Resolution by Russia
Also, in another development, India, along with 12 other UN Security Council members, abstained on a resolution by Russia on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
The draft resolution was co-sponsored by Syria, North Korea and Belarus. It failed to get adopted in the Council on Wednesday as it did not get the required nine ‘yes’ votes to pass.
Russia and China voted in favour of the resolution while there were no countries voting against. India and the remaining Security Council members abstained.
Russia had called for a vote in the 15-nation Security Council on its draft resolution.
(With PTI inputs)