Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution on Friday that would have deplored Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote - a move western countries view as a win for showing Russia's international isolation.
The United Arab Emirates and India also abstained from the vote on the US-drafted text. The remaining 11 council members voted in favor. The draft resolution is now expected to be taken up by the 193-member UN General Assembly.
China's abstention comes just weeks after Beijing and Moscow declared a "no limits" partnership, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West.
"We are united behind Ukraine and its people, despite a reckless, irresponsible permanent member of the Security Council abusing its power to attack its neighbor and subvert the UN and our international system," US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after Russia cast its veto.
The UN vote was delayed two hours for last minute negotiations by the United States and others to win the Chinese abstention, diplomats said. Russia is a UN Security Council veto power, along with the United States, China, France and Britain.
The Council softened the language in its resolution to say it "deplores" Russia's "aggression against Ukraine" from "condemns", while a reference to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which deals with sanctions and authorization of force, was removed along with a reference to "the president."
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine as the UN Security Council met in New York late on Wednesday to try and defuse weeks of mounting tensions.
"Make no mistake. Russia is isolated. It has no support for the invasion of Ukraine," Britain's UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council after the vote.
The draft Security Council resolution demanded that Russia "immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine" and "immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."
The draft also demanded that Russia reverse its recognition of two separatist states in eastern Ukraine as independent.
"It is a matter of regret that the path of diplomacy was given up. We must return to it. For all these reasons India has chosen to abstain on this resolution," India's UN Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti told the council.