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India questions efficacy of UN system, abstains on resolution that marked a year of Russia-Ukraine war

India has abstained on the UN resolutions on Ukraine and consistently underlined the need to respect the UN Charter
Last Updated : 24 February 2023, 10:36 IST

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Questioning the efficacy of the United Nations in maintaining global peace, India has abstained from voting at the international organisation’s General Assembly on a resolution, which has asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and end the war that has been raging on over the past one year.

New Delhi refrained from supporting the resolution, brushing aside pleas, not only from Kyiv, but also from Paris, Berlin and other western capitals as well as the European Union. The resolution, however, was adopted by the UN General Assembly, with 141 nations voting in its favour and seven against it. India joined Pakistan, China and 29 other nations to abstain from voting.

“Has the UN system, and particularly its principal organ, the UN Security Council, based on a 1945-world construct, not been rendered ineffective to address contemporary challenges to global peace and security?” New Delhi’s envoy to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj, wondered, as she presented an explanation to India’s decision to abstain from voting on the resolution on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “Are we anywhere near a possible solution acceptable to both sides?”

She reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “this-cannot-be-an-era-of-war” message to President Vladimir Putin. “We will always call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only viable way out. While we take note of the stated objective of today’s Resolution, given its inherent limitations in reaching our desired goal of securing lasting peace, we are constrained to abstain.”

As the UNGA voted on the resolution exactly a year after Russia launched its “special military operations” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, India also questioned if any process without involvement of either of the two sides could ever lead to a credible and meaningful solution of the conflict.

The resolution was drafted by Ukraine in consultation with the United States and the other western nations. It called for cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of Russia’s military forces from the territory within the internationally recognizsed borders of Ukraine, including the areas the President Vladimir Putin’s nation annexed in the East European nation. It also urged “comprehensive, just and lasting peace”.

Moscow’s envoy to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, earlier called the resolution “malevolent in nature” and “anti-Russia”.

The amendments moved by Belarus to make the resolution acceptable to Russia were defeated.

India conveyed to the UNGA its continued concern over the situation in Ukraine.

“The conflict has resulted in the loss of countless lives and misery, particularly for women, children, and the elderly, with millions becoming homeless and forced to seek shelter in neighbouring countries. Reports of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are also deeply worrying,” Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said. “International principles and jurisprudence vest responsibility on parties to the conflict to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure are not targeted in situations of armed conflicts.”

India had earlier abstained from voting on all the five resolutions the UNGA adopted over the past 12 months condemning Russia for its military aggressions against Ukraine. It had in October 2022 joined 106 other nations at the UNGA to vote against Russia, rejecting the former Soviet Union nation’s demand for a secret ballot on a proposed resolution that would condemn the former Soviet Union nation’s recent move to annex four regions in Ukraine. But it had abstained from voting on the resolution.

Besides, during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2021 to December 2022, India had also abstained from most of the resolutions targeted against Russia. It had, however, in August 2022 joined the US and 11 other nations to vote against Russia and allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to virtually address the Security Council.

New Delhi has been drawing flak for not joining the western nations in strongly condemning Moscow’s aggression against the East European nation. India refrained from echoing the US and rest of the West primarily in view of its decades-old strategic partnership with Russia and its continued reliance on military hardware procured from the former Soviet Union nation. India has been circumventing sanctions imposed by the US and the other western nations on Russia and continuing bilateral trade. It has also increased oil and coal imports from Russia.

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Published 23 February 2023, 21:25 IST

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