India abstains from UNSC procedural vote to discuss Ukraine; says ‘quite and constructive’ diplomacy ‘need of the hour’

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31:  India on Monday abstained from a procedural vote taken in the UN Security Council ahead of a meeting to discuss the situation on the Ukraine border and underlined that “quiet and constructive” diplomacy is the “need of the hour” and any steps that increase tension “may best be avoided” by all sides in the larger interest of securing international peace and security.

The 15-nation Council held a meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis amid the build-up of tens of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders. The action by Moscow has stoked fears of an invasion. Russia denies it is planning an attack.

Ahead of the meeting, Russia called for a procedural vote to determine if the open meeting can go through. The Council needed 9 votes in favour to go ahead with the meeting held at the request of the US.

India, Gabon and Kenya abstained from the vote, while Russia and China voted against. All other Council members, including the US, the UK and France, voted in favour of the meeting.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said in the Council that New Delhi has been closely following the evolving developments relating to Ukraine, including through ongoing high-level security talks between Russia and the United States, as well as under the Normandy format in Paris.

“India’s interest is in finding a solution that can provide for immediate de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries and aimed towards securing long term peace and stability in the region and beyond,” Tirumurti said.

“Quiet and constructive diplomacy is the need of the hour. Any steps that increase tension may best be avoided by all sides in the larger interest of securing international peace and security,” he underlined.

Tirumurti also told the Council that more than 20,000 Indian students and nationals live and study in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas. “The well-being of Indian nationals is of priority to us,” he said.

India said it has also been in touch with all concerned parties.

“It is our considered view that the issue can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue,” Tirumurti said, adding that in this context, New Delhi welcomes the efforts underway including under the Minsk Agreement and the Normandy format.

The Normandy format talks involve Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France whose representatives first met informally in Normandy (France) in 2014 in an effort to resolve the war in Donbass, a small region in eastern Ukraine adjoining the Russian border.

The Minsk protocol is a 2014 agreement reached in the Belarusian capital that sought to end the war in Ukraine. It was mediated by France and Germany under the Normandy format. But it failed to stop the fighting, and a new package of measures – known as Minsk II – was signed in February 2015, after a fraught 16 hours of negotiations. This also did not end the fighting.

Tirumurti said, “Flowing from the recently concluded meeting in Paris under  the Normandy format, we also welcome the unconditional observance of the July  2020 ceasefire (in Donbass) and reaffirmation of Minsk Agreements as the basis of work under the ongoing Normandy format, in particular, commitment of all sides  to reduce disagreements on the way forward. We also welcome their agreement to meet in Berlin in two weeks.”

New Delhi urged all parties to continue to engage through all diplomatic channels and to keep working towards the full implementation of the ‘Minsk Package’.

India reiterated its call for the “peaceful resolution of the situation by sincere and sustained diplomatic efforts to ensure that concerns of all sides are resolved through constructive dialogue”.

Russia is reported to have massed an estimated 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine has brought increasingly strong warnings from the West that Moscow intends to invade. Russia has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade Ukraine.

However, Moscow is demanding that NATO promise never to allow Ukraine to join the military alliance, and to stop the deployment of NATO weapons near Russian borders and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe. The US and NATO have rejected Russia’s demands but have not ruled out more talks to address the security concerns of Moscow and ease the crisis.  (PTI)