India voices concern at UN over Russia-Ukraine tensions, seeks de-escalation

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti addressed an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday night.
File photo of India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti
File photo of India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti
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Voicing "deep concern" over the escalation of tension along the Russia-Ukraine border, India has told the UN Security Council that the immediate priority is de-escalation of tensions, taking into account the "legitimate" security interests of all countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, February 21, signed decrees to recognise Ukraine's regions of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics as independent, escalating the tension in the region and increasing fears of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Putin has also ordered troops into eastern Ukraine in what the Kremlin called a "peacekeeping" mission.

Addressing an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday night, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said, “We have been closely following the evolving developments relating to Ukraine, including developments along the eastern border of Ukraine and the related announcement by the Russian Federation.”

"The escalation of tension along the border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation is a matter of deep concern. These developments have the potential to undermine peace and security of the region,” he said at an emergency UNSC meeting held at the request of Ukraine.

"The immediate priority is de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries and aimed towards securing long term peace and stability in the region and beyond,” Tirumurti said, urging for restraint on all sides.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday voiced great concern over Russia's decision, saying it is a violation" of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

He urged all relevant actors to focus their efforts on ensuring an immediate cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, preventing any actions and statements that may further escalate the dangerous situation in and around Ukraine and prioritising diplomacy to address all issues peacefully, a statement issued by the spokesperson of the UN chief said.

Russia's move was strongly condemned by the US, which said that the decision represents a complete rejection" of Moscow's commitments under the Minsk agreements, directly contradicts Russia's claimed commitment to diplomacy, and is a clear attack on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

US President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order blocking trade and investment in parts of Ukraine that have been recognised as independent by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The White House, which described the Russian actions as blatant violation of Moscow's international commitments, said that economic sanctions are in the pipeline.

The European Union too said it would slap sanctions on Russia for recognising Ukraine's breakaway regions. Russia's move comes a day after President Biden accepted "in principle" a meeting with President Vladimir Putin provided Russia does not invade Ukraine. However, the Kremlin on Monday said it would be premature to talk about the organisation of any such meeting at the moment.

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