Ukraine’s ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, had said before the vote that suspending Russia was “not an option, but a duty,” in order to save lives and prevent the Human Rights Council from foundering.
Russia called the move “an attempt by the U.S. to maintain its domination and total control” and to “use human rights colonialism in international relations.”
The action came in the aftermath of Russia’s indiscriminate bombings in Ukraine and the reported killings and torture of civilians in the suburbs of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, that point to Russian culpability. Ukraine, the United States and other countries have said that the acts amount to war crimes.
Only four countries voted with Russia in two General Assembly resolutions in March that rebuked Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces.
The General Assembly, which elects members of the Human Rights Council, has suspended only one other country: Libya, in March 2011. But that action, taken after President Moammar al-Qaddafi launched a ferocious crackdown on antigovernment protesters, was taken with the support of Libyan diplomats in New York and Geneva who had dissociated themselves from the actions of their government.