India abstains on UNGA resolution that deplores Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

India demanded “safe and uninterrupted” passage for all its nationals, including students still stranded in Ukraine and cities in the conflict zones, as it abstained in the UN General Assembly on a resolution deploring Russian aggression against Ukraine and reiterated that differences can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.

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“India has been deeply concerned over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said.

In the first Indian casualty in the war in Ukraine, student Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar from Karnataka was killed in shelling in Kharkiv city on Tuesday morning. Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, 21 a fourth-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, was killed in intense shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday.

Referring to the death of the young Indian student in Kharkiv, Tirumurti in his remarks to the General Assembly said “an Indian national was tragically killed in Kharkiv yesterday due to the ongoing hostilities. We express our deepest condolences to his family and to that of each and every innocent civilian who has lost his or her life in this conflict.”

“We demand safe and uninterrupted passage for all Indian nationals, including our students who are still stranded in Ukraine, particularly from Kharkiv and other cities in the conflict zones. Many member states share this concern,” he said.

Tirumurti said India has reiterated this demand to both Russia and Ukraine. “This remains our foremost priority.”

“Keeping in view the totality of the evolving situation, India decided to abstain,” he said.

Tirumurti asserted that India remains “firm in its conviction” that “differences can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomac” and added that India supports the international community’s call for an immediate ceasefire.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “unequivocally conveyed” this in his discussions with world leaders including of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Emphasising that “ensuring the well being and safety of our citizen” is the basic duty of every government and India has instituted special flights to bring back Indians home from conflict zones.

He told the General Assembly that the Indian government has deployed senior ministers as Special Envoys to countries neighbouring Ukraine, to facilitate evacuation.

“We thank all neighbouring countries of Ukraine for opening their borders and extending all facilities to our Embassies at this time,” he said.

Tirumurti told the UNGA that Modi has “underscored” the urgent imperative for humanitarian access and movement of stranded civilians. “We also support safe humanitarian access to conflict zones.”

A Ukrainian woman cries during a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, near the foreign ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 2, 2022. (AP)

India said it “sincerely” hopes that the second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine “will lead to a positive outcome.”

India urges that all member states demonstrate their commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, to international law and respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.

Tirumurti said India has already dispatched humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including medicines, medical equipment and other relief material. “We are sending more such tranches in the coming days,” he said.

The resolution in the 193-member General Assembly was adopted with overwhelming support of 141 nations voting in favour and five against. Nearly 100 UN Member States co-sponsored the resolution titled ‘Aggression Against Ukraine’, including Afghanistan, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Kuwait, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. The resolution required a 2/3 majority of those voting yes or no to be adopted in the General Assembly.

The UNGA resolution was similar to the one circulated in the 15-nation Security Council last Friday, on which also India had abstained. The UNSC resolution, which received 11 votes in favour and three abstentions, was blocked after permanent member Russia exercised its veto.

Following the failure of the Council to adopt the resolution, the Security Council voted on Sunday again to convene a rare “emergency special session” of the 193-member General Assembly on the crisis.

India again abstained on this resolution, reiterating that “there is no other choice but to return back to the path of diplomacy and dialogue.”

The procedural resolution Sunday was adopted even though Moscow voted against it and the General Assembly then held a rare emergency special session on the Ukraine crisis Monday.

President of the 76th session of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid presided over the unprecedented session, only the 11th such emergency session of the General Assembly since 1950. With the adoption of the UNSC resolution Sunday, it was for the first time in 40 years that the Council decided to call for an emergency special session in the General Assembly.

The resolution demanded that Russia immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any UN member state.

The resolution, condemning the February 24 declaration by Russia of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, demanded that Moscow “immediately, completely, and unconditionally” withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.”

The resolution also deplores the February 21 decision by Russia related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter and demands that Russia immediately and unconditionally reverse the decision related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

It also called upon the parties to abide by the Minsk agreements and to work constructively in relevant international frameworks, including in the Normandy format and Trilateral Contact Group, towards their full implementation.

While a UNSC resolution condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine would have been legally binding and General Assembly resolutions are not, vote in the 193-member UN body is symbolic of world opinion on the crisis and carry political weight as they represent the will of the entire UN membership.

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