- China, India and the UAE abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia
- Moscow vetoed the resolution demanding that the Kremlin stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw
- Vote was 11-1, with China, India and the UAE abstaining, in a sign of widening split between West and East
- Beijing’s abstention likely to be viewed as sign of close ties between Putin and China’s tyrant Xi Jinping
China, India and the UAE abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, in another sign of the widening of the diplomatic split between the West and the East over Vladimir Putin’s aggression.
Moscow, which has a permanent seat on the Security Council, vetoed the resolution demanding that the Kremlin stop its attack on Kyiv and withdraw all its troops.
Friday’s vote was 11-1, with China, India and the UAE abstaining. The US and her allies knew the resolution wouldn’t pass but argued it would highlight Russia’s international isolation. Instead, Beijing’s abstention is likely to be viewed among Western powers as another sign of the closeness of the relationship between Putin and China’s tyrant Xi Jinping.
China has so far refused to call Russia’s action in Ukraine an ‘invasion’ or criticise the Kremlin despite intensifying assaults from Putin’s military. Beijing has also thrown Moscow another sanction-busting lifeline by lifting wheat import restrictions in an economic boost to Moscow despite sweeping sanctions imposed by the West in a bid to stop the war.
Imports had been restricted in recent months over concern over Russia’s measures to prevent plant diseases, particularly in agricultural crops. The move to keep the market open was reportedly part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing concluded earlier this month and is the latest sign of growing ties between the two states.
Fears are also growing in the West that Putin’s aggression could set an example to China, which has long sought a takeover of Taiwan.
Beijing has maintained the offshore island is a part of the mainland ever since Chiang Kai-shek and his troops fled Mao Zedong’s Communist armies to set up a new nation in 1949. While Western nations acknowledge a ‘One China’ policy, recognising Beijing as the official government, the US has sold billions in arms to Taiwan and repeatedly said it would help defend the island from military threat.
The UN resolution’s failure paves the way for backers to call for a swift vote on a similar measure in the UN General Assembly. There are no vetoes in the 193-member assembly. There’s no timetable as yet for a potential Assembly vote.
The US, Britain, the European Union and Canada yesterday doled out further sanctions on Russia on Friday, including against Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the ‘harshest’ package ever drawn up by the bloc.
London ordered all assets of both men frozen while the United States and Canada will also impose sanctions on the pair, with Washington including a travel ban. Russia said the sanctions against the pair were ‘a demonstration of the complete impotence of the foreign policy’ of the West.
Putin has now issued a chilling warning to its neighbours Sweden and Finland, saying both nations will face ‘military consequences’ if they join NATO.
In other developments:
- The mayor of Kyiv extended a curfew in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday;
- Britain’s defence ministry said on Saturday the bulk of Russian forces involved in the advance on Kyiv were now 19 miles from the city centre.
- Russian troops captured the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Russia’s defence ministry claimed;
- UK armed forces minister James Heappey said Britain did not believe Russian forces had captured Melitopol;
- Refugees fleeing Ukraine continued to pour across its western borders on Saturday, with around 100,000 reaching Poland in two days;
- A decision to cut Russia off from the global SWIFT payment system will be taken in a matter of days, the governor of a central bank within the euro zone said;
- At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the head of the Ukrainian Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying;
- France has decided to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine to support the country against Russia’s invasion;
- French sea police seized a ship on Saturday that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by European Union sanctions over the war in Ukraine, a government official claimed;
- Putin urged the Ukrainian military to overthrow the country’s leadership and negotiate peace;
- Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote.
In the past, India depended on Soviet support and its veto power in the Security Council in its dispute over Kashmir with its longtime rival Pakistan.
The Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it its entirety. India accuses Pakistan of supporting armed rebels in Kashmir in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and pushed the nuclear-armed rivals to fight two wars.
India warily watched as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan landed in Moscow as Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Putin met with Khan for nearly three hours in the middle of the crisis.
The war in Ukraine not only added to challenges faced by New Delhi in Kashmir but also along its restive mountain frontier with China. Both Pakistan and China are seen to be on the Russian side, and India believes Moscow has leverage to change Beijing’s hard stance on the border issue.
A confrontation in June 2020 along the disputed China-India border dramatically altered their already fraught relationship as the rival troops fought with rocks, clubs and fists. At least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers were killed. Tensions have since persisted despite talks.
As the fighting continued in Ukraine, several organizations held protests in the Indian capital for a second day Saturday, demanding an end to the Russian aggression and pressing the Indian government to evacuate thousands of Indians, mostly students, stranded there.
It comes as Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that were Finland and Sweden to attempt to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, such a move would have ‘serious military-political repercussions’.
‘Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,’ Zakharova said during a news briefing. The foreign ministry later reiterated the threat on Twitter.
‘We regard the Finnish government’s commitment to a military non-alignment policy as an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe,’ the department wrote. ‘Finland’s accession to @NATO would have serious military and political repercussions.’
Sweden and Finland both border Russia in the Arctic Circle. Putin is widely believed to have attacked the Ukraine after western nations mooted the idea of the country joining NATO, over fears it could end up with a US military presence on its doorstep. A similar move by Sweden or Finland could potentially provoke similar ire.
US intelligence officials are worried the Ukrainian capitol of Kyiv could fall by Saturday afternoon CNN reported, with Russian troops entering the city in the early hours of Saturday morning local time.
Putin had earlier described the Ukrainian government as ‘terrorists’ and ‘a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis’, urging the country’s military to topple its president, Volodmyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian leader responded by vowing to stay and defend the capital.
‘We’re all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We’re all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way,’ he said in the self-shot video from Kyiv.
A Kremlin spokesman said Putin was ready to send a delegation to Belarusian capital Minsk ‘for talks with a Ukrainian delegation’.
But the US swiftly dismissed the offer. After invading Ukraine, ‘now we see Moscow suggesting diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun. This is not real diplomacy,’ State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The UN said that more than 50,000 Ukrainians had fled the country in the past two days, calling for ‘safe unimpeded access’ for aid operations.
Streams of people in cars and on foot were seen crossing into Hungary, Poland and Romania while hundreds camped out in a train station in the Polish border city of Przemysl. About 100,000 people are believed to be internally displaced.
The US-led military alliance NATO said it was deploying its rapid response forces for the first time to bolster defences on the alliance’s eastern flank.
Despite Zelensky calling on Western allies to expel Moscow from the SWIFT banking transfer system, numerous EU countries, including Germany, Hungary and Italy, have been reluctant over fears Russia could cut off gas supplies.
Facebook also unveiled new restrictions, demonetising Russian state media across its platform.
Ukraine’s president emerged on Saturday morning defiant and determined after an onslaught on his capital city, declaring that Kyiv would resist the Russian advance.
Zelensky captioned the video, posted on Twitter, ‘Don’t believe the fakes’.
He condemned the false claims that he had surrendered and told his compatriots to lay down arms, and insisted his country would not give in to Russian aggression.
‘Recently, fake info was spread about me ordering our army to lay down arms and evacuate,’ Zelensky said. ‘It’s untrue. I’m here, we are not laying down, we will protect our state. This is our land, our country, our kids, and we will defend them.’
The 44-year-old, who has been widely praised for his courage in the face of Russia’s aggression, said on Thursday that he knew he was ‘target number one’ for Putin’s assassins.
‘There’s a lot of fake information online that I call on our army to lay down arms, and that there’s been an evacuation ordered,’ he said. ‘I’m here. We won’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state.’
Yet even as Zelensky spoke, the Ukrainian interior ministry was warning Kyiv’s residents to shelter in place and not venture out onto the streets.
Ukraine’s armed forces on Saturday morning claimed 3,500 Russians had been killed overnight, and 200 taken prisoner. They said 14 Russian aircraft, eight helicopters, and 102 tanks had been seized. The scale of Ukrainian losses was not clear.
As dawn broke in Kyiv, a high-rise apartment block in the Zhuliany district near Sikorsky international airport was hit by a cruise missile. There was no word on casualties, but the side of the building was ripped off in the attack.
Armed forces were engaged in a fierce battle for control of the city, with footage on social media showing explosions close to a metro station in the western centre of the capital by the zoo; a battle ongoing for control of a thermal power plant to the north; and multiple reports suggesting fierce fighting 20 miles south, near a vital airbase.
In Kyiv, footage shared on social media showed a bombardment close to Beresteiska metro station, in the west of the city, which is near the zoo.
More than 50 explosions and heavy machine gun fire were reported in the district of Shulyavka, near Beresteiska metro and the zoo, according to The Kyiv Independent.
A bridge near the metro was blown up, according to reports. It was unclear whether the explosion was caused by artillery or by Ukrainian forces intent on stopping the Russian advance.
The district is under the control of the 101st Independent Security Brigade of the General Staff.
Terrified residents posted videos filmed from their apartments, with flashes of light and the sound of gunfire. One video shared on social media showed an apartment building glowing with red lights, which some speculated was to guide bombers or snipers. Others said the lights were to warn the military not to bomb them.
The northern suburb of Troieshchyna was also coming under sustained attack for another night, as Russia tried to wrest control of the thermal power plant on the banks of the Dnieper river. Unconfirmed reports suggested dozens of Russians had been arrested.