'It is exactly the safety of your nationals' in Ukraine for which 'you should be the first' to vote to stop the war, Kyiv's envoy at the United Nations has said in an apparent reference to India as it abstained on a United Nations Security Council resolution that 'deplores' Russian aggression against Ukraine.
"I am saddened, however, that there is a small, handful of members that seem to be still tolerating the war," Sergiy Kyslytsya said after the Security Council voted on the United States-led draft resolution.
The resolution deplored Russia's aggression against Ukraine and demanded that Moscow 'immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders'.
India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained on the resolution, while Albania, Brazil, France, Gabon, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, the United Kingdom and the US voted in favour and Russia used its veto.
In the explanation of the vote, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said India is 'deeply concerned' about the welfare and security of the Indian community, including a large number of Indian students, in Ukraine.
On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said in New Delhi that there were around 20,000 Indians in Ukraine and of them, nearly 4,000 have returned to India in the last few days.
Most of the Indian nationals in Ukraine are students.
Addressing the Council, Kyslytsya appeared to refer to the Indian envoy and said, "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. And not to think about whether you should or should not vote because of the safety of your nationals."
He said nothing could justify missile shelling of kindergarten, orphanage, hospitals.
China's envoy at the UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said in his explanation of the vote that 'the issue of Ukraine is not something that only emerged today; nor did the current situation occur suddenly overnight. It is a result of the interplay of various factors over a long period of time'.
In a remark that appeared to be directed to China's envoy, Kyslytsya said 'any complex historical context could not be used to justify what is going on'.
After the vote, Russia's Ambassador at the UN Vassily Nebenzia thanked 'those who did not support this draft'.
He said Russia voted against the 'anti-Russian and anti-Ukrainian' draft resolution.
"I think I need not to explain why it is anti-Russian -- suffice it to briefly look at it. But why anti-Ukrainian? Because this document, without any doubt, contradicts the fundamental interests of the Ukrainian people, as it seeks to protect and secure in Ukraine the system of power that brought the country to this tragedy that has lasted for at least 8 years already," Nebenzia said.
The Russian envoy said 'we do not wage war on Ukraine and its people. We are carrying out a special military operation against nationalists to protect the people of Donbas, ensure denasification and demilitarisation'.
"Those tasks will soon be complete, and the people of Ukraine will again have an opportunity to shape their future, while living in peace and cooperation with all neighbours."
After the resolution was blocked due to Russia's veto, the US vowed to take action against Russia to the 193-member UN General Assembly.
"We will be taking this matter to the General Assembly, where the Russian veto does not apply and the nations of the world will continue to hold Russia accountable," US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the vote.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations was born out of war to end war but 'today, that objective was not achieved'.
"But we must never give up. We must give peace another chance. Soldiers need to return to their barracks. Leaders need to turn to the path of dialogue and peace," he said.
Guterres said the United Nations Charter has been challenged in the past, but it has stood firm on the side of peace, security, development, justice, international law and human rights.
"Time after time, when the international community has rallied together in solidarity, those values have prevailed. They will prevail, independently of what happened today. We must do everything in our power so that they prevail in Ukraine but they prevail for all humanity."
UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said after the vote that the resolution was not adopted only because of the single veto of the permanent member of the Security Council who is 'perpetrating' the conflict.
"Russia claims that its invasion of Ukraine is in self-defence. This is absurd. Russia's only act of self-defence is the vote they have cast against this resolution today. Make no mistake: Russia is isolated. It has no support for the invasion of Ukraine," she said.
The UNSC meeting was delayed by two hours and there were some changes in the language of the draft resolution that was finally put to vote, some weakening aimed at garnering more support for the draft.
Permanent member China abstained, not using its veto power. An earlier version of the draft had contained language 'condemning the 23 February 2022 declaration by the President of the Russian Federation of a special military operation in Ukraine'.
The final version of the draft that was put to vote removed the reference to the Russian president as well as the mention of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which states sanctions and authorisation of force.
The final resolution also removed a stronger word 'condemns' and instead used the word 'deplores' for Russia's aggression.
Of the 15 nations in the Council, only six co-sponsored the draft resolution, while Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, the UAE, India, China and Russia did not. Many big African nations also did not support the resolution.