India abstains from voting on the UNGA resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine and its “illegal” referendums

In the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, India abstained from the draft resolution condemning Russia’s “illegal” referenda and attempts to annex Ukraine. The decision by New Delhi is in line with its “well-thought-out national position” and the country stands ready to support all efforts aimed at de-escalation while emphasizing the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in achieving a peaceful resolution.

Russia’s illegal referendums in regions within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and the attempt to illegally annex the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following the organization of the above-mentioned referendums, were condemned by the 193-member general assembly on Wednesday.

A resolution entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the United Nations Charter” was adopted with 143 nations voting in favor, Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Nicaragua voting against, and 35 nations abstaining.

A round of applause erupted after the resolution was adopted in the UNGA hall.

During the explanation of the vote after the draft resolution was adopted, India’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, urged that all efforts be made to end hostilities immediately as well as to return to dialogue and diplomacy as soon as possible.

It is essential that we keep all channels of diplomacy open on the path to peace. Our sincere hope is for an early resumption of peace talks to lead to an immediate ceasefire and a resolution of the conflict. ‘India stands ready to support all such efforts aimed at deescalation,’ said Kamboj.

A number of other pressing issues are at stake, some of which were not adequately addressed in the resolution adopted today. As a result of carefully considering our national position, we have decided to abstain,” she concluded.

Kamboj quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying last month that this is not an era of war, adding that India has abstained with this firm determination to pursue a peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy.

According to her, the trajectory of the Ukrainian conflict has resulted in “substantial collateral damage” for the entire global South.

As developing countries bear the brunt of the conflict’s effects on food, fuel, and fertiliser supplies, it is important to hear the global South’s voice and address their legitimate concerns.  “A struggling global economy cannot be further complicated by measures that further complicate matters,” she advised.

Chinese, Cuban, Pakistani, South African, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Vietnamese nations abstained.

In the resolution, it was stated that the “unlawful actions” of Russia concerning the illegal referendum held from September 23 to 27 in parts of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, as well as the attempted illegal annexation of these regions, were invalid under international law and did not constitute the basis for any alteration of these regions’ status.

All States, international organizations, and United Nations specialized agencies were urged not to recognize any alteration in the status of any or all of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk or Zaporizhzhia regions by Russia. In addition, it was recommended that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all military forces from the war-torn nation within its internationally recognized borders.

Kamboj expressed deep concern about the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, including targeting civilian infrastructure and civilian deaths.

“We have consistently argued that no solution can be achieved at the expense of human lives. The escalation of hostilities and violence is in nobody’s interest,” she said, adding that India has called on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and return to dialogue and diplomacy.

“We believe that the global order that we all subscribe to is based on international law, the UN Charter, and the respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. There must be no exceptions to these principles,” she stated.

During the high-level UN general debate last month, Kamboj cited External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remarks that India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly on the side of it, emphasising that dialogue is the only way to resolve differences and disputes.

We respect the UN Charter and its founding principles, and we advocate dialogue and diplomacy as the only way to resolve the conflict. As the cost of food, fertilisers and fuel continues to rise, we are on the side of those struggling to make ends meet. Our collective interest therefore lies in working constructively, both within the United Nations and outside, in finding an early resolution to this conflict,” Jaishankar had stated.

India abstained last month while Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution tabled by the United States and Albania that would have condemned Moscow’s “illegal referendums” and invalidated the annexation of four Ukrainian territories.

Several hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia in a ceremony at the Kremlin, the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution on “Illegal So-Called Referenda in Ukraine”.

In the absence of a veto from permanent UNSC member Russia, the resolution did not pass.

The resolution was supported by 10 members of the 15-member council, while China, Gabon, India and Brazil abstained.

In response to Russia’s veto, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield pledged to continue to pursue accountability at the United Nations in the General Assembly, where every country is entitled to vote.

A special emergency session on Ukraine was reconvened by General Assembly President Csaba Korosi.

This week, the general assembly voted on a procedural motion submitted by Albania proposing that a recorded vote be taken on the draft resolution. Russia had requested that the vote take place by secret ballot, but its request was rejected.

India, along with 106 other nations, voted against Russia’s request for a secret ballot.

A number of Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, were attacked by Russia on Monday.

The police reported that at least 10 people were killed and approximately 60 others injured in Ukraine’s attacks.

As a result of the large-scale missile attacks launched by Russia’s armed forces across Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that he was deeply shocked by the events.

“This represents another unacceptable escalation of the war, and civilians are paying the greatest price as always,” he had stated.

Although India has not yet condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it maintains that diplomacy and dialogue are the only means of resolving the conflict.

As a member of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, India has abstained from voting on the Ukraine conflict.

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