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Debris covers the yard of a maternity hospital damaged in a shelling attack in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.  (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File)

This was India’s 12th vote at the United Nations where it abstained — 11th since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 — but it was New Delhi’s sharpest message to Moscow so far. For, an abstention — it doesn’t count to calculate the tally — at the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council is, effectively, seen as siding with those who voted “Yes”, essentially the West-led by the US.

More so, when according to a note accessed by Reuters, Russia had warned countries that a Yes vote or abstention will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties. The Indian Express has learnt that Russian envoy Denis Alipov had reached out to top Indian diplomats to vote in its favour. Yet, New Delhi chose to abstain.

The perpetrators of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were guilty of war crimes and must be held accountable, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday. “This is something we cannot forget,” Scholz said, referring to the deaths of civilians in the town to the northwest of Kyiv. “We cannot overlook that this is a crime. These are war crimes we will not accept… those who did this must be held accountable.”

Since Russian troops pulled back from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians have been found dead. Bucha’s deputy mayor said more than 360 civilians were killed and around 260-280 were buried in a mass grave by other residents. Russia has called the allegations that Russian forces executed civilians in Bucha while they occupied the town a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army.

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