For the second time in two months, India voted in favour of allowing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the United Nations virtually. More than 100 countries voted in favour allowing Zelensky to address the high-level UN General Assembly session through a pre-recorded statement because of his need to deal with the war on his country unleashed by Russia.
Earlier, India’s first vote against Russia, the government had last month backed Zelensky’s right to address the UN Security Council virtually, China abstained on both occasions. India’s vote came after PM Narendra Modi told Russian president Vladimir Putin during a meeting on the fringes of the just-concluded SCO summit in Samarkand that “this isn’t the era of war” while underlining the significance of “democracy and dialogue”. The 193-member General Assembly voted on a decision to allow Zelensky to address world leaders at its session this week.
The decision was adopted with 101 votes in favour, seven against, including Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Syria, and 19 abstentions. India was among the 101 nations that voted in favour of the draft decision. The document that was approved expresses concern that leaders of “peace-loving” UN sovereign nations can’t participate in person “for reasons beyond their control owing to ongoing foreign invasion, aggression, military hostilities that do not allow safe departure from and return to their countries, or the need to discharge their national defence and security duties and functions”. The document permits Zelensky to submit a pre-recorded statement to be played in the General Assembly Hall. It stresses that this will not set a precedent for future high-level assembly meetings. The annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly was all virtual in 2020 and hybrid in 2021.