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Momen explains why Bangladesh abstained from UNGA vote denouncing Russia

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Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has condemned Russia's ongoing military offensive in Ukraine even as Bangladesh abstained from voting on a resolution to denounce the invasion at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Explaining Bangladesh's decision not to vote at the emergency session called by the UN Security Council on Mar 3, Momen said it was because the country is "against war" and wants "peace".

"We want peace. We’re against war. That’s why we did not vote in favour of the war," he told reporters at the National Press Club on Saturday.

The UNGA overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, an action that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

The resolution was supported by 141 of the assembly's 193 members but Russia along with Belarus, which has served as a launchpad for Russian invasion forces, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against it. Meanwhile, 35 members, including Bangladesh, India and China, abstained from the vote.

Md Monwar Hossain, a UN representative from Bangladesh, expressed his support for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for restraint for all parties, reports

He urged the secretary general to engage all actors in dialogue and underlined the need to create safe and unimpeded humanitarian access and allow safe passage for anyone trying to leave Ukraine.

At the same time, he called for safe and secure access to humanitarian aid in Ukraine as well as safe passage for those looking to leave the country.

Asked about Bangladesh's position on the ongoing conflict, Momen said, "Our position remains the same. We want peace and stability throughout the world. If there is instability anywhere then it's a problem for us. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how instability can hurt business and trade.”

"Bangladesh wants peace and is the biggest promoter of peace in the world."

"We have spoken about the need for a peaceful resolution through talks. We have said the same thing at the UN. We have said that we are deeply concerned. The secretary general of the United Nations should take an initiative to bring about a peaceful solution."

As the conflict rages on in Eastern Europe, many Bangladeshis have found themselves stranded in different parts of Ukraine and neighbouring countries alongside Indians.

Asked if Dhaka has been in contact with Delhi over their evacuation, the minister said, "We are in regular talks with India. They are helping us."

A Bangladeshi ship, MV Banglar Samriddhi, was also hit by a shell in the port of Olvia in Ukraine, killing the vessel's third engineer Hadisur Rahman.

Asked if Dhaka had any information about who attacked the ship, Momen said, "We do not know who bombed the ship. Russia has expressed regret about the incident. The damage wasn't too great. But we are bringing the sailors back home because they are scared.”

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