Russia vetoes a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on it to withdraw from Ukraine.
Russia on Friday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution of which it was the target, effectively blocking action by the panel, which is responsible for protecting and maintaining international peace.
The resolution, written and presented by the United States and dozens of its allies, strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called on Moscow to withdraw its troops immediately and provide safe access for humanitarian relief work.
Eleven member countries voted in favor of the resolution. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained. Russia, which has veto power as one of five permanent members of the council, voted against it.
“Russia, you can veto this resolution, but you cannot veto our voices,” said the U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “You cannot veto the truth. You cannot veto our principles. You cannot veto the Ukrainian people. You cannot veto the U.N. Charter. And you will not veto accountability.”
The United States had known all along that Russia would veto the resolution. But U.S. officials hoped that by doing so, Russia would demonstrate its isolation and its disregard for the U.N. charter.
Russia appeared unfazed. Its ambassador thanked the three countries that had abstained from the vote. He dismissed as a Western conspiracy the diplomatic efforts to hold it accountable. He denied that Russia had targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and then delivered a jab at the United States for its own military incursions, inferring to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the premise that Saddam Hussein was harboring chemical weapons, which turned out to be not true.
“It is difficult for us to compete with the U.S. in terms of invasions,” said the Russian ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya. “You are in no position to moralize.”
Diplomats said that the U.N. General Assembly would act next week on a resolution condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine. Countries do not have veto power at the General Assembly, but its resolutions are symbolic and not legally binding, as the Security Council’s are.
The abstention by China was not a surprise. China has taken a both-sides approach to the conflict, calling for defusing of tensions and respect for sovereignty but stopping short of condemning Russia.
“Against the backdrop of five successive rounds of NATO expansion, Russia’s legitimate security aspiration should be given attention and addressed properly,” said China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun. “Ukraine should be a bridge between East and West, not an outpost for confrontation between major powers.”
Understand Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is at the root of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine within its natural sphere of influence, and it has grown unnerved at Ukraine’s closeness with the West and the prospect that the country might join NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Are these tensions just starting now? Antagonism between the two nations has been simmering since 2014, when the Russian military crossed into Ukrainian territory, after an uprising in Ukraine replaced their Russia-friendly president with a pro-Western government. Then, Russia annexed Crimea and inspired a separatist movement in the east. A cease-fire was negotiated in 2015, but fighting has continued.
How did this invasion unfold? After amassing a military presence near the Ukrainian border for months, on Feb. 21, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed decrees recognizing two pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. On Feb. 23, he declared the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Several attacks on cities around the country have since unfolded.
What has Mr. Putin said about the attacks? Mr. Putin said he was acting after receiving a plea for assistance from the leaders of the Russian-backed separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, citing the false accusation that Ukrainian forces had been carrying out ethnic cleansing there and arguing that the very idea of Ukrainian statehood was a fiction.
How has Ukraine responded? On Feb. 23, Ukraine declared a 30-day state of emergency as cyberattacks knocked out government institutions. Following the beginning of the attacks, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, declared martial law. The foreign minister called the attacks “a full-scale invasion” and called on the world to “stop Putin.”
How has the rest of the world reacted? The United States, the European Union and others have condemned Russia’s aggression and begun issuing economic sanctions against Russia. Germany announced on Feb. 23 that it would halt certification of a gas pipeline linking it with Russia. China refused to call the attack an “invasion,” but did call for dialogue.
How could this affect the economy? Russia controls vast global resources — natural gas, oil, wheat, palladium and nickel in particular — so the conflict could have far-reaching consequences, prompting spikes in energy and food prices and spooking investors. Global banks are also bracing for the effects of sanctions.
But the abstentions by India and the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. ally in the Middle East, came as a surprise. Both countries said they had not voted in favor of the resolution because it might have closed the door for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
Brazil voted in favor of the resolution and condemned Russia’s aggression. Its ambassador said the country had sought during last-minute negotiations to make changes to the text of the resolution to “balance” the language and leave space for diplomacy.
The council meeting ended with Ukraine’s ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, asking for a moment of silence to pray for peace and to honor those who had died or who might die.
“I invite the Russian ambassador to pray for salvation,” Mr. Kyslytsya said. A minute of silence followed and then loud applause.
Diplomats spoke to the news media after the meeting had ended. The European Union representative, Olof Skoog, said Russia’s veto was “another proof of Russia’s isolation and blatant disrespect for the world.”