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Russia Vetoes UN Security Council Resolution Calling on it to Withdraw from Ukraine

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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.”

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.”

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