India abstained on a resolution to call for a special emergency session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The 15-member Security Council met on Sunday to hold a vote on the emergency special session of the General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Only 10 such emergency sessions of the General Assembly have been held since 1950, according to a PTI report. 

The vote calling for the special session was procedural so none of the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States, China, France, United Kingdom, and Russia, could exercise their vetoes.

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The move comes two days after Russia vetoed a UNSC resolution telling Moscow to stop its attack on Ukraine. Eleven countries had voted in favour of the resolution, while India, China, and the UAE had abstained.

“It is regrettable that the situation in Ukraine has worsened further since the Council last convened on this matter,” India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti, said at the UNSC meeting, according to ANI.

“Them is no other choice but to return back to the path of diplomacy and dialogue,” he said.

He further went on to appreciate the decision by Ukraine and Russia to hold talks at the Belarus border. “Our Prime Minister has advocated this strongly in his recent conversations with the leadership of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. In this regard, we welcome today’s announcement by both sides to hold talks at the Belarus border,” Tirumurti said.

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“The global order is anchored on international law, the UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. We are all agreed on these principles,” he added.

Taking this opportunity, the representative also voiced India’s concern about the security and safety of Indian nationals, including Indian students, who continue to be stranded in Ukraine. “Our evacuation efforts have been adversely impacted by the complex and uncertain situation at the border crossings. It is important to maintain an uninterrupted and predictable movement of people. It is an urgent humanitarian necessity that must be immediately addressed,” he said.

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“Taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances, we have decided to abstain,” he concluded.

India began the evacuation of its stranded citizens amid the Russian military offensive in Ukraine on Saturday, with the first evacuation flight, AI1944, bringing back 219 people from Bucharest to Mumbai in the evening. More than 500 additional Indians were brought home on Sunday in two separate flights.

On India’s decision to abstain from voting on the UNSC resolution against Russia on February 25, Tirumurti had said in a statement, “Dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes, however daunting that may appear at this moment. It is a matter of regret that the path of diplomacy was given up. We must return to it.”