Despite welcoming Moscow and Kyiv’s decision to hold talks at the Belarus border, India abstained from a procedural vote in the UN Security Council to call for a rare special emergency session of the UN General Assembly on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. With 11 votes in favour, the resolution was passed, clearing the way for the General Assembly to convene on the matter as early as Monday. India, China, and the United Arab Emirates abstained, while Russia voted no. This will be the UN General Assembly’s 11th emergency session since 1950.
The 15-nation Security Council convened on Sunday afternoon to vote on the 193-member General Assembly’s emergency extraordinary session on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This comes just two days after Russia used its veto to thwart a UN Security Council resolution condemning its “aggression” against Ukraine.
Because the vote convening the UNGA session was procedural, none of the Security Council’s five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — could use their vetoes. In his explanation of Sunday’s vote, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, said, “It is regretful that the situation in Ukraine has worsened further since the Council last convened on this topic.”
“There is no other option except to return to the path of diplomacy and communication,” he said. “We applaud both sides’ announcement today to hold talks on the Belarus border,” he said. Tirumurti stated that India remains concerned about the safety and security of Indian people stuck in Ukraine, particularly a large number of Indian students.
“The complicated and uncertain scenario at the border crossings has hampered our evacuation operations.” It’s critical to keep people moving in a consistent and predictable manner. “This is an urgent humanitarian need that must be handled right away,” he said. “We have chosen to abstain, taking into account the totality of the facts,” he stated.
Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, cancelled his trip to Geneva for the Human Rights Council’s 49th regular session “because to the current situation in Ukraine and probable developments in the Security Council,” for the vote. On Saturday, he met with Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, following the Security Council’s veto of the draught resolution. “On the security situation in Kyiv and the likely action he would pursue in the General Assembly,” Kyslytsya informed Shahid. Due to the worsening situation in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also cancelled his journey to Geneva for the Human Rights Council meeting. After Moscow deployed its veto, the Security Council failed to adopt the US-sponsored resolution condemning Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine on Friday evening.
India, China, and the United Arab Emirates abstained from voting on the resolution again on Friday, while 11 members of the Security Council voted in favour. The UNSC proposal was likely to be stymied because Russia, a permanent member of the Council and the UN organ’s President for the month of February, was expected to exercise its veto. The resolution, according to Western nations, was intended to demonstrate Moscow’s isolation on the international stage as a result of its invasion and actions against Ukraine.
“We will be taking this subject to the General Assembly, where the Russian veto does not apply and the nations of the world will continue to hold Russia accountable,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said following the unsuccessful UNSC vote. While a resolution passed by the UN Security Council would have been legally binding, resolutions passed by the General Assembly are not. A vote in the United Nations’ 193-member council is emblematic of global opinion. Tirumurti said New Delhi is “extremely troubled” by the current turn of events in Ukraine and recommends that all efforts be made for the quick cessation of violence and hostilities in his explanation of India’s vote in the Security Council on Friday.
Tirumurti also expressed India’s “great concern” for the welfare and security of the Indian community in Ukraine, which includes a big number of Indian students. “However difficult it may look at this time, dialogue is the only way to resolve differences and disputes. It is regrettable that the diplomatic option was abandoned. We must get back to it. “India has opted to abstain on this resolution for all of these reasons,” he had stated.
After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting the “invalidity” of the referendum held in “independent Crimea.” The Assembly had adopted a resolution titled ‘Territorial Integrity of Ukraine’, calling on States, international organisations, and specialised agencies not to recognise any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, and to refrain from actions or dealings that could be interpreted as such, by a vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions. India had voted against the resolution.
An emergency special session can be held within 24 hours of a request being made under the General Assembly’s resolution “Uniting for Peace,” which was adopted in November 1950.