Russia failed to win enough votes for re-election to the United Nation's aviation agency's governing council on Saturday, in a boost for Western powers that wanted to hold Moscow accountable following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia fell short of the votes needed to stay on the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) 36-nation governing council, during the agency's assembly which runs through Oct. 7 in Montreal.
The voting results set off a procedural review on Saturday, after a challenge by Russia for an additional vote. Poppy Khoza, assembly president and South Africa's director general of civil aviation, called the circumstances "unprecedented."
"When we have votes in our countries, if we don't like the result, we don't ask for another vote," the French representative told the assembly.
Russia, along with the G7, China, Brazil and Australia, held spots as "states of chief importance in air transport" on ICAO's 36-member council.
"We'd like to express regret regarding the outcome of the voting," the Russian representative said. "We view this as a purely political step and has nothing to do with Russia's position in the field of civil aviation."
Russia closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including all 27 members of the European Union, in response to Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
The West says Russia has illegally confiscated hundreds of foreign jets, a charge Moscow denies.
Canada and Europe said before the vote they would oppose Russia's re-election to the council.
Omar Alghabra, Canada's transport minister, told Reuters this week "it's important that Russia is held accountable."
The 193-nation ICAO assembly, held every three years, is the first since the COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine war
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