By abstaining from a UN Security Council resolution on the Russian attack on Ukraine, India retained the option of reaching out to all relevant parties to find a middle ground and foster dialogue and diplomacy to defuse the crisis, official sources said on Saturday. Though India abstained from voting on the resolution, it called for respecting "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of States and sought immediate cessation of "violence and hostilities", in comments that the sources said reflected a "sharper tone" and criticism of the Russian offensive. At the crucial UN Security Council session on Friday, Russia used its veto power to block the US-sponsored resolution deploring in the "strongest terms" Russian "aggression" against Ukraine. Besides India, China and the United Arab Emirates too abstained from voting.
While abstaining from voting on the resolution, India issued an 'Explanation of Vote' (EoV) after the vote in which it called for "return to the path of diplomacy" and sought immediate cessation of "violence and hostilities". India also told the UN Security Council that it has been in touch with all parties concerned and urged them to return to the negotiating table. "The contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states," India said in the EoV said. "All member states need to honour these principles in finding a constructive way forward. Dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes, however daunting that may appear at this moment," it said. Noting that it is deeply disturbed by the recent turn of developments in Ukraine, India urged that all efforts are made for the immediate cessation of violence and hostilities. The sources said India's call for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and seeking an end to the ongoing "violence" is reflective of its criticism of the Russian action and a subtle change in its overall approach.
In India's three previous statements at the UN Security Council on the Ukraine crisis, there was no reference to the need for respecting the "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of states. The sources said India has maintained its "consistent, steadfast and balanced" position on the matter that dialogue is the only answer to settle differences and disputes. TS Tirumurti, India's Permanent Representative to the UN, said dialogue is the only answer to settle differences and disputes and that no solution can ever arrive at cost of human lives. In the 15 member UN Security Council, the resolution received 11 votes in favour of it, Russia opposed it and India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the voting. India also conveyed that the welfare and security of the Indian community, in particular stranded students and their evacuation from Ukraine, has been India's immediate priority. The sources said India called on all member states to honour principles of international law and the United Nations Charter as these provide a constructive way forward. They said India regretted that the path of diplomacy has been given up in resolving the crisis and insisted that it must return. "By abstaining, India retained the option of reaching out to relevant sides in an effort to bridge the gap and find the middle ground with an aim to foster dialogue and diplomacy," said a source. "An earlier draft of the resolution had proposed moving the resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides the framework within which the Security Council may take enforcement action. However, this was dropped in the final version that was put to vote," it said.
The sources said India called for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and pitched for an immediate cessation of violence and hostilities as was conveyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to President Vladimir Putin. In the midst of the escalating situation in Ukraine, Modi held a telephonic conversation with Putin on Thursday during which he appealed for ending violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic dialogue. The sources said India has been in touch with all concerned parties and urged them to return to the negotiating table. The draft resolution demanded Russia to immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all its troops. Since Russia voted against the resolution (vetoed the resolution), it was not passed.