India, citing the "totality of the evolving situation", abstained on a U.N. Security Council resolution, vetoed by Russia, that sought to condemn Moscow's "illegal referenda" and declare its annexation of four Ukrainian territories as invalid.
The 15-nation U.N. Security Council voted on Friday on the draft resolution tabled by the U.S. and Albania on ‘Illegal So-Called Referenda in Ukraine’, hours after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, in a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin, signed treaties to annex the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The resolution failed to get adopted as permanent member Russia vetoed it. It was supported by 10 of the 15 members of the Council, while China, Gabon, India and Brazil abstained.
Addressing the Security Council after the vote, India's Permanent Representative to the U.N., Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, said that India was deeply disturbed by the turn of events in Ukraine and New Delhi had always advocated that no solution could be sought at the cost of human lives.
"We urge that all efforts are made by concerned sides for the immediate cessation of violence and hostilities. Dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes, however daunting that may appear at this moment," she said in the explanation of the vote.
"The path to peace requires us to keep all channels of diplomacy open," she added.
Underlining that India's position had been clear and consistent from the beginning of the conflict, Ms Kamboj said the global order is anchored on the principles of the U.N. Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of all states.
"Escalation of rhetoric or tensions is in no one's interest,” she said. “It is important that pathways are found for a return to the negotiating table. Keeping in view the totality of the evolving situation, India has decided to abstain on this resolution.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before the vote that the outcomes of Russia's "sham referenda were pre-determined" in Moscow.
"Everybody knows it. They were held behind the barrel of Russian guns. Time and time again we have seen the Ukrainian people fight for their country and their democracy," she said.
"Earlier today, we saw Putin celebrate this clear violation of international law. He threw a party on Red Square to pat himself on the back for these illegal referenda. He is gloating and reminiscing about the Soviet empire and stated that this was just the beginning. As we all sit in this chamber and solemnly consider this resolution, Putin is instead boastfully shoving our shared values in our faces," Thomas-Greenfield said.
She said if Russia chose to shield itself from accountability, then "we will take further steps in the General Assembly" to send an unmistakable message to Moscow that the world is still on the side of defending sovereignty and protecting territorial integrity.
Russia's Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said before the vote that the results of the referendum speak for themselves and that the residents of these regions do not want to return to Ukraine.