As the United States seeks the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council, Moscow warned that a yes vote or abstention on the resolution will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences on bilateral ties.
The 193-member UN General Assembly in New York is due to vote Thursday on the measure pushed by the US after Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha.
In a note seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Russia’s mission to the United Nations urged countries to “speak out against the anti-Russian resolution”. It was not immediately clear how many countries received the note.
“It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative, but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non-participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture,” the note read.
“In addition, the position of each country will be taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issues important for it within the framework of the UN,” it read.
A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – can suspend a country from the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council for committing gross and systematic violations of human rights.
Russia’s mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the letter because it was not public. Russia is in its second year of a three-year term on the Human Rights Council.
“Russia blatantly and openly threatening countries who vote to suspend them from the UN Human Rights Council is only further evidence that Russia needs to be suspended immediately from the UN Human Rights Council,” Olivia Dalton, spokesperson for the US mission to the United Nations, said on Wednesday.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb 24, the Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Russia with 141 and 140 votes in favor. Moscow says it is carrying out a “special operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.
Russia denies attacking civilians in Ukraine and Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Tuesday that while Bucha was under Russian control “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence”.
The General Assembly has previously suspended a country from the Human Rights Council. In March 2011, it unanimously suspended Libya because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi. (Source: CNA)