The Chinese regime joined Russia on Feb. 28 in voting against the top U.N. human rights body holding an urgent debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kyiv’s envoy requested on Feb. 24 to hold an urgent debate, alleging that some of Moscow’s military actions “may amount to war crimes.”
But Ukraine’s request was accepted by the U.N. Human Rights Council, following a vote of 29 votes in favor, 5 against, and 13 abstentions. The council has only held six such urgent debates thus far.
“Russian forces attempt to sow panic among the population by specifically targeting kindergartens and orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades, thus committing acts that may amount to war crimes,” said Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N., in Geneva, Switzerland. “It was not just an attack on Ukraine, it was an attack on every U.N. member state, on the United Nations, and on the principles that this organization was created to defend.”
China, which refuses to call Moscow’s assault in Ukraine an invasion, voted against the resolution, along with Russia, Cuba, Eritrea, and Venezuela.
Beijing’s opposition follows its abstention at the Feb. 25 vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The draft was vetoed by Russia.
While the White House has called on Beijing to publicly condemn Russia’s aggression, the Chinese regime has repeatedly refused to denounce Moscow’s actions.
When asked if Beijing will maintain a neutral stance in the Russia–Ukraine conflict, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Feb. 28 that the regime and Russia are “strategic partners of coordination” and that its position on Ukraine is based on “the merits of the matter itself.”
Since Russia declared a “special military operation” five days ago, at least 102 civilians, including seven children, have been killed in Ukraine, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Feb. 28, noting that the figure is likely an undercount.
She said more than 420,000 people had fled the country, citing official figures from the U.N. refugee agency.
A Ukrainian draft resolution will be considered at the urgent debate.
If adopted, a commission of three independent experts would investigate all of the alleged violations of international law in Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014, as well as in other areas of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last week.
The meeting is expected to be held on March 3, after three days of speeches delivered by officials from more than 140 countries, including China and Russia. The top U.N. human rights body began its annual five-week session on Feb. 28.
Reuters contributed to this report.