India on Friday abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
India’s ambassador to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti, said that dialogue was the only way to resolve disputes, “however daunting that may appear at the moment”.
The resolution, co-written by the United States and Albania, was not passed as Russia vetoed it. The country has veto power in its capacity as a permanent member of the council.
Tirumurti, representing India, said that the country was “deeply disturbed” by the recent turn of developments and called for an immediate stop to violence. “No solution can be arrived at, at the cost of human lives,” he added.
India said that it was a matter of regret that the path of diplomacy was given up. “We must return to it,” Tirumurti said. The envoy added that India was concerned about the well-being of its citizens, including students, in Ukraine.
“The contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,” the Indian envoy told the council. “All member states need to honour these principles in finding a constructive way forward.”
The Indian statement did not make any explicit reference to Russia or condemn its invasion of Ukraine.
Apart from India, China and the United Arab Emirates also abstained from the vote, Reuters reported. The other 11 members of the council voted in favour of the resolution.
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly is now expected to take up the draft resolution.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the countries that voted in favour of the resolution. “The veto of [Russia] is a bloodstain on its plaque in the Security Council, the map of Europe and [the world],” he said. “Anti-war coalition must act immediately!”
Meanwhile Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, made an apparent reference to Trimurti’s concern about Indian citizens living in the country, reported The Hindu.
“And I may say to some: It is exactly the safety of your nationals right now in Ukraine that you should be the first to vote to stop the war – to save your nationals in Ukraine,” Kyslytsya said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a “military operation” in Ukraine, citing alleged threats emanating from the latter country. Ukraine has denied that it poses any threat to Russia and said that an invasion could lead to the loss of thousands of lives.
Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backed separatist rebellions in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Opposition leaders condemn abstaining from vote
Congress leaders appeared to be divided in their opinions about India abstaining from voting on the UN Security Council resolution, The Indian Express reported.
Congress MP Anand Sharma advocated diplomacy and said the international community must take steps to help restore peace and avoid human suffering and civilian deaths.
“We can only express our grave concern and appeal for immediate cessation of hostilities,” The Indian Express quoted Sharma as saying.
However, his party colleague Manish Tewari said he wished that India had voted in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are facing an “unprecedented” and “unjustified” aggression.
“Friends need to be told when they are wrong,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Congress MP also told The Indian Express that the invasion of Ukraine “goes against every principle of international relation.”
Another Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, that while Russia is a friendly nation and its concerns about its borders are understandable, India cannot be silent on “crucial principles” that it has followed, according to The Indian Express.
On Twitter, Tharoor expressed concerns about the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine.
“Any help from the beleaguered Ukrainian authorities to facilitate their exit is all the more unlikely after India’s UN abstention,” said Tharoor.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said that by not voting on the resolution, India had stood on the same side as China. “Tomorrow, it could be us not getting support against China,” she wrote on Twitter.
Chaturvedi said that abstaining from voting against a war would not make a relationship better but would instead weaken a country’s principles against violence and human rights.