China has abstained from voting on a UN Security Council draft resolution telling Moscow to stop attacking Ukraine and withdraw all troops immediately.
Russia vetoed the draft resolution while India and the United Arab Emirates also abstained from the vote on the US-drafted text.
The remaining 11 council members voted in favour.
China’s move is seen as a win for western countries who want to show Russia as being isolated internationally.
The 11 to 1 vote showed significant but not total opposition to Russia’s invasion of its smaller, militarily weaker neighbour.
The resolution’s failure paves the way for backers to call for a swift vote on a similar measure in the 193-member UN General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.
There was no immediate timetable for a potential assembly vote.
More explosions heard in Kyiv as troops enter capital – live updates
Spearheaded by the US and Albania, the security council resolution would have deplored Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
It called for Moscow immediately to pull out its military and stop using force against Ukraine, and to reverse a decision to recognise two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as independent.
Unlike security council resolutions, general assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they can function as statements of world opinion.
• According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Russian forces have made advances throughout the day – “but continue to face strong resistance from the Ukrainian Armed Forces”
• Ukraine also “retains control of key cities”
• China has abstained from voting on a draft UN Security Council resolution that would have deplored Moscow, in what will be seen as a diplomatic win for the West
• The UK is going to impose direct sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov imminently. The EU also plans to freeze their assets, and the US intends to do the same
• NATO says it will deploy more troops to eastern Europe
In an assembly meeting on Wednesday as Moscow’s invasion loomed, dozens of countries condemned Russia or expressed solidarity with Ukraine.
Russia and ally Syria defended Moscow’s moves.
The UN Security Council draft resolution vote on Friday came after China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said actions taken by the council should “ease tensions, not fuel them”.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had earlier told her Chinese counterpart she expected Beijing to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Ms Truss said in a statement on Friday: “I spoke to (Chinese) FM (Foreign Minister) Wang Yi about Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and made clear that Russia’s actions are a flagrant breach of the UN Charter.
“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council we expect China to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Read more: Where is under attack?
The vote came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his country’s citizens that Russian troops are preparing to storm Kyiv, urging them “to stop the enemy wherever you can”.
After unleashing airstrikes, Russian tanks rolled into Kyiv on Friday, and troops were descending on the capital from two fronts.
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In a message posted on social media, Mr Zelenskyy said: “This night the enemy will use all its forces to break our resistance – vile, cruel and inhuman.
“Tonight they will storm.
“We have to persevere tonight. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.
Read more: Who is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy?
“Every civilian should be as careful as possible, please help each other, especially the elderly, those who are currently in great difficulty. In case of any danger, go to the shelter.
“Anyone who has already joined the defence of the country or can help the defence – stop the enemy wherever you can.”