Vaccine Delivery Canceled to Country That Did Not Condemn Russia

One country's decision to abstain from condemning Russia has now cost it a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and demanding immediate withdrawal, with 141 out of the 193 members nations voting in favor of the resolution. Five nations voted against it, including Russia itself, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Eritrea. The remaining 35 countries abstained from the vote.

Among the abstaining members was the South Asian country of Bangladesh. As a result of that decision, Lithuania reversed a previous decision from earlier in the week to send over 440,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh, according to a report from Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). This was confirmed to LRT by a spokesperson for Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė.

The U.N. vote came after two days of debate, during which a Ukrainian representative accused Russia of genocide. In addition to condemning the invasion "in the strongest terms," the resolution also condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to put his country's nuclear forces on high alert. Amidst the focus on Russia, the General Assembly, including Bangladesh, also voiced support for the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

During the General Assembly debates, a representative for Bangladesh said that the country always supports peace and wished for the crisis in Ukraine to be resolved through diplomatic dialogue, according to The Daily Star. In explaining its decision to abstain from the vote that ultimately condemned Russia's actions, Bangladesh said that the resolution merely placed blame for the invasion and did not do anything to stop the conflict in Ukraine.

China has historically been an ally to Russia, but has recently spoken out against the invasion and voiced support for the sovereignty of Ukraine. Despite that, it also joined Bangladesh in abstaining from the resolution vote, citing a similar preference for a diplomatic approach to resolving the conflict.

Zhang Jun, China's envoy to the U.N., said that the resolution did not "take full consideration of the history and complexity of the current crisis.

"It does not highlight the importance of the principle of indivisible security, or the urgency of promoting political settlement and stepping up diplomatic efforts," he added. "These are not in line with China's consistent positions."

Bangladesh, located to the east of India, is the eighth-most populous country in the world with around 163 million residents. At only 148,000 square kilometers in size, it is also the most densely populated country on the planet. Since the start of the pandemic, it has reported just shy of 2 million COVID-19 cases and just over 29,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Follow our live blog for updates on the war in Ukraine.

lithuania bangladesh vaccines russia
Lithuania has opted not to send a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh after the latter abstained from condemning Russia in a recent U.N. vote. Above, a shot of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Munir Uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images