UNGA: India votes against Russia’s call for secret ballot on Ukraine resolution

Updated on Oct 12, 2022 05:27 AM IST

The draft resolution before the UNGA seeks to condemn Russia’s “so-called referendums” and “attempted illegal annexation” of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.

The United Nations headquarters in New York. (Getty Images)
The United Nations headquarters in New York. (Getty Images)

India joined more than 100 United Nations member states to reject Russia’s call for a secret ballot in the General Assembly on a draft resolution to denounce Moscow’s “illegal” annexation of four Ukrainian regions, hours after New Delhi expressed concern at the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

This is only the second time since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that India has voted yes in a procedural vote to oppose a Russian proposal. In August, India voted against a Russian proposal to block a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the UN Security Council.

Russia made a call on Monday at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly that the fate of the resolution be decided through a secret ballot. In response, Albania moved a motion that the matter should be handled through an open recorded vote in the 193-member General Assembly.

India was among 107 UN member states that backed a recorded vote, while 13 countries voted for a secret ballot and 39 countries abstained. Russia, China, Iran and South Africa were among the 24 countries that didn’t vote. Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives too backed a recorded vote while Bangladesh and Pakistan abstained.

The UN General Assembly is expected to vote later this week on the draft resolution that seeks to condemn Russia’s “so-called referendums” and “attempted illegal annexation” of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.

When external affairs minister S Jaishankar was asked at an interaction at the Lowy Institute in Canberra on Tuesday how India will vote on the resolution, he said, “Nobody puts their decision to vote out in front. You take the call when you have to…A large part of the world today is hurting because of this conflict…because their lives are impacted in a very damaging manner.”

The resolution further states that the referendums contravened international law. Albania’s representative argued that a “dangerous precedent” would be established if such a substantive issue of peace and security was decided through a secret vote.

A total of 66 countries are scheduled to speak during the emergency meeting.

Russia’s protests against the ruling of the president of the General Assembly and the adoption of Albania’s motion for an open recorded vote on Monday were also set aside in two separate votes backed by more than 100 UN members, including India.

The move came hours after India said it was “deeply concerned” at the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine following Russian air strikes that targeted Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities. India reiterated its call for an immediate end to hostilities and a return to dialogue.

India also said that the escalation of hostilities is in no one’s interest, and that it is ready to support all efforts aimed at de-escalation. In recent days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nudged both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during separate interactions to end the war and to return to diplomacy and dialogue.

So far, India has refrained from publicly censuring Russia’s actions in Ukraine though it has called for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states to be respected.

The resolution to condemn Russia’s annexation of four regions of Ukraine automatically moved to the General Assembly after Moscow vetoed it in the Security Council on September 30. India had abstained when the draft resolution tabled by the US and Albania came up in the Security Council.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Monday, Csaba Kőrösi, the president of the body, said that the door for a diplomatic solution to end the fighting between Russia and Ukraine must be kept open, and any threat to use nuclear weapons should be “universally condemned”.

Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, contended the UN General Assembly president had played a key role in “an outrageous fraud”. He added, “This is an unprecedented manipulation undermining the authority of the general assembly and the UN as a whole. Of course, in such circumstances we opted to not take part in the vote.”

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