What India’s abstention from the United Nations Security Council vote on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means

India abstained on Saturday from a United Nations Security Council resolution sponsored by the United States that “strongly condemns” Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine, saying that discussion is the only way to resolve differences and issues.

Who was the one who proposed the resolution?

The United States and Albania presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, which was co-sponsored by Australia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom.

What was the purpose of the resolution?

The United Nations Security Council reiterated its support to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders in its resolution.

The resolution “strongly condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” and orders Russia to “immediately halt using force against Ukraine and desist from any other unlawful threat or use of force against any UN member state.”

The resolution further stated that Russia “must withdraw all of its military forces from Ukraine’s territory within its internationally recognized boundaries immediately, totally, and unconditionally.” It further demanded that Moscow “immediately and unconditionally revoke the decision regarding the status of some areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

Why did India not vote?

India did not support the resolution’s severe language in denouncing Russia’s actions. Because it has key partners on both sides, it aims to maintain a balance between the Western bloc led by the United States and Russia.

Is India’s decision to abstain surprising?

No, it’s not the case. In the past, India has done a good job of keeping a balance between the West and Russia. India abstained on a procedural vote on whether or not to debate Ukraine on January 31. Then, along with Kenya and Gabon, New Delhi established its position on “legitimate security interests” that resonated with a nuanced slant toward the Russian perspective and abstained.

So, how did this resolution turn out?

While Russia, which chairs the United Nations Security Council meeting because it has the presidency for the month of February, rejected the resolution, China, like the United Arab Emirates, abstained. Despite the fact that the remaining 11 members of the United Nations Security Council, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, voted in favor of the resolution, it did not pass because Russia vetoed it.

Was China’s decision to abstain surprising?

Yes, China’s decision to abstain is surprising, given that it opposed the vote on January 31 and was viewed as mirroring Russia’s position.

What was India’s explanation for its vote at United Nations SC?

T S Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, outlined five major arguments to explain the abstention. First, it stated that it is “very disturbed,” but made no mention of Russia. “The recent course of events in Ukraine has gravely concerned India,” Tirumurti added.

Second, it underlined its call for “violence to stop.” “We demand that all efforts be made to put an end to the violence and hostilities as soon as possible,” he said. During the phone chat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed this to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “No solution can ever be reached at the expense of human lives,” added the Indian ambassador.

Third, it expressed its main worry over Indian nationals in Ukraine, where approximately 16,000 remain stranded, the majority of whom are students. “We are particularly concerned about the welfare and security of the Indian community in Ukraine, which includes a substantial number of Indian students,” he added.

Fourth, it addressed “territorial integrity and sovereignty,” which was a brand-new topic. “The current global order is based on the United Nations Charter, international law, and state sovereignty and territorial integrity. In order to establish a constructive path forward, all member nations must adhere to these values,” Tirumurti stated.

It also promoted diplomacy. “However difficult it may look at this time, dialogue is the best way to resolve differences and disputes,” the envoy stated. “It is regrettable that the diplomatic option was abandoned. We must get back to it. “India has chosen to abstain on this Resolution for all of these reasons,” he continued.

Was India being pressured diplomatically?

India was caught in a diplomatic bind between the Western powers and Russia before the United Nations Security Council took up the draft resolution denouncing the Russian invasion in the early hours of Saturday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke by phone with his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken late Thursday night, reiterating that communication and diplomacy are the best ways to defuse the Ukraine situation. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Jaishankar as Russian soldiers approached Kyiv’s gates and conveyed his “assessment” of the situation. On Friday in New Delhi, European ambassadors voiced their sympathy with their Ukrainian counterparts and strongly criticized Russia’s “unprovoked and unlawful” military strike on Ukraine.

Foreign ministers from the United Kingdom and the European Union had phoned Jaishankar the day before, and ambassadors from the G-7 countries had indicated their support for the Ukrainian ambassador.

Is this beneficial to India’s diplomatic space?

India maintained its “consistent, steadfast, and balanced approach on the topic,” according to sources. “India has been in contact with all parties involved, asking them to return to the negotiating table.” India retains the option of reaching out to relevant parties in an effort to bridge the divide and find a middle ground with the goal of fostering conversation and diplomacy by abstaining, according to a source.

According to the sources, an earlier draft of the resolution recommended elevating the resolution to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides the basis for the Security Council to conduct enforcement measures. However, in the final version that was placed to a vote, this was removed.

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