The Sri Lankan government was one of a handful of countries to abstain on a United Nations General Assembly resolution that condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier today.
The resolution, supported by 141 of the assembly's 193 members, “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”, demands “the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces”.
Thirty-five members, including Sri Lanka, India and China, abstained.
Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against the resolution.
Speaking before the vote, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it was “an extraordinary moment".
"Now, at more than any other point in recent history, the United Nations is being challenged," she added. "Vote yes if you believe UN member states – including your own – have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for its actions."
“We know about the unprecedented pressure that our western partners are exerting on a large number of countries urging them to vote as they [the west] see fit,” claimed Russia’s representative, Vasily Nebenzya. “This is not something even we can call pressure. It was open and cynical threats.”
China’s envoy, Zhang Jun, said the resolution did not undergo “full consultations with the whole membership” of the assembly, "nor does it take full consideration of the history and complexity of the current crisis”.
“It does not highlight the importance of the principle of indivisible security, or the urgency of promoting political settlement and stepping up diplomatic efforts,” he continued. “These are not in line with China’s consistent positions.”
See the full text of the resolution here.
Also in Sri Lanka this week, as states around the world announced a host of wide-ranging sanctions on Russia, in Sri Lanka a different set of discussions was taking place in Colombo, with deepening trade links on the agenda a ministerial meeting.
Russia’s Alexey Gruzdev, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, reportedly arrived in Sri Lanka and met with the regime’s State Minister for Regional Co-Operation Tharaka Balasuriya in Colombo earlier.