Russia's Closest Allies Desert Putin as Country Humiliated at UN

Some of Russia's closest allies abandoned the country on Friday during a vote of the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council to condemn alleged human rights violations in Ukraine.

Only Eritrea joined Russia in voting against the resolution as 32 countries of the 47-member body based in Geneva, Switzerland, voted in favor of establishing an independent commission to investigate the allegations against Russia.

Thirteen countries abstained from the vote, including some nations generally considered close to Russia. China, Cuba and Venezuela all abstained.

Cuba and China also abstained in a vote of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that called for Russia to remove its troops from Ukraine. Venezuela had not been able to vote as its voting rights were suspended over unpaid membership fees.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the vote on Friday, tweeting: "I welcome the establishment by the #UN Human Rights Council of the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate facts of Russian war crimes against Ukraine.

"Evidence will be documented and used in international courts. Russian war criminals will be held accountable," he wrote.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, had told the council there was "irrefutable evidence of gross and systematic human rights violations as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia."

Filipenko later told reporters after the vote: "Those from Russia directing and committing violations against my people should be paying attention. The evidence is going to be collected; you are going to be identified, and you are going to be held to account."

Russia's representative, Evgeny Ustinov, said that those supporting the resolution "will use any means to blame Russia for the events in Ukraine." His country has denied accusations that its forces have committed human rights violations and targeted civilians in Ukraine.

A three-person commission is to be established to investigate the allegations and will initially operate for one year with a report expected in early 2023. It will work with an already existing UN rights team for Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that his country has no "ill intentions" toward Ukraine or other neighboring countries and called for the normalization of relations.

"I want to emphasize once again. We have no ill intentions towards our neighbors, and I would advise them not to escalate the situation, nor to introduce any restrictions," Putin told the state-controlled Rossiya 24 news channel.

Recent UN votes appear to indicate that Putin is diplomatically isolated as the U.S. and its NATO allies press ahead with sanctions.

Update 03/04/21 10:00 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a new photo and more information.

Vladimir Putin Speaks at a Press Conference
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) following their meeting over Ukraine security at the Kremlin, in Moscow, on February 15, 2022. Russia appears diplomatically isolated following a Friday vote at the UN Human Rights Council. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images