At Wednesday's United Nations General Assembly vote which condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there was one hugely notable abstention: China.
"We are facing a tragedy for Ukraine, but also a major regional crisis with potentially disastrous implications for us all," had previously introduced at the start of the debate.
What was dubbed a 'special emergency session' was a very rare one - considering it was only the 11th in the UN's history. Such sessions are typically called when on pressing issues of war and peace at times the Security Council can't reach unanimous consensus - and obviously Russia has veto power when it comes to UNSC resolutions.
The resolution condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine was overwhelming:
- 141 in favor
- five opposed
- 35 abstentions
The "no" votes included the following countries:
- North Korea
The final resolution text reads in part that the body condemns "the 24 February 2022 declaration by the Russian Federation of a “special military operation” in Ukraine," and it reaffirms that "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal," and further:
Recognizing that the military operations of the Russian Federation inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine are on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades and that urgent action is needed to save this generation from the scourge of war...
The following day, on Thursday, China's foreign ministry issued a scathing critique of NATO. Beijing echoed recent Kremlin comments, laying ultimate blame on NATO expansionism for the war in Ukraine and humanitarian crisis.
The foreign ministry's text even quoted prior US statesmen and officials, notably George Kennan...
"International media lately mentioned many times that George Kennan, former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, suggested to the US government in 1990s that expanding NATO up to Russia’s borders would be the most fateful error of American policy. Regrettably, the US government turned a deaf ear to this."
Further the PRC Foreign Ministry statement cited, "Thomas Friedman, a famous US expert on international relations, wrote in a recent article that ill-considered decision by the US to expand NATO has undermined the relations with Russia and the US government in early years deserves much of the blame. Tulsi Gabbard, former member of the US House of Representatives, said that the crisis could have been ended and the war easily avoided if President Biden had simply promised not to accept Ukraine’s becoming a member of NATO. But they chose not to do so."