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UN assembly approves Ukraine-sponsored resolution on Azov Sea affair, with nearly half abstaining

UN assembly approves Ukraine-sponsored resolution on Azov Sea affair, with nearly half abstaining
The UN General Assembly has voted for a Ukraine-sponsored draft denouncing “militarization” of the Azov and Black Seas. About half of member-states abstained and Moscow said it’s like giving Kiev a blank check to scapegoat Russia.

Sixty-six countries voted in favor of the resolution and 19 against, while 72 countries abstained.

The resolution, brought forward by Ukraine, serves to accuse Russia of violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity by deploying military forces to Crimea. The document also accuses Moscow of restricting the freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea and condemns what Kiev sees as a similar ramped-up militarization in the Black Sea.

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Before the vote, Syria and Iran proposed amendments to the resolution for more balance, which would have included a mention of the Minsk Agreements and Kiev's responsibility to abide by them. The agreements stipulate that both Kiev and the forces of the self-proclaimed breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine must observe a ceasefire, as well as withdraw troops and military hardware. Kiev also must ensure local elections take place in accordance with the law.

But the UN body rejected the amendments, resulting in what Russia has blasted as a one-sided resolution.

First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy pointed out the huge number of abstaining nations, “not wanting to have anything in common with the malignant Ukrainian plot.”

The UNGA vote sent a new, emboldening signal to Kiev, that “anything goes and everything will be pardoned, and Russia will be made a scapegoat.”

Still, the “deceitful” resolution will not change anything about the situation in Crimea or around it, the diplomat said. The real power to resolve the dispute lies with Washington, which has been pulling Kiev’s strings, Polyanskiy believes.

Referring to the incident in the Azov Sea that saw three Ukrainian military ships seized after violating Russian territorial waters, Polyanskiy said that it was a “thoroughly thought-out provocation, which has been ongoing under our eyes.”

“It was made possible thanks to the approval of the US and other countries playing along with the Ukrainian authorities’ narrative.”

Two gunboats and a tug boat were blocked, fired-at and seized by the Russian border guard after their Ukrainian crews ignored numerous warnings and requests to stop.

Moscow says that Ukraine failed to obtain proper clearance to pass the Kerch strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Azov Sea while it was temporarily closed to navigation.

Kiev, claiming it had followed all the right procedures, responded by imposing martial law in regions adjacent to the Russian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the standoff a provocation, aimed at suppressing Ukraine leader Petro Poroshenko’s political opponents ahead of the March presidential election, given that he’s facing a slump in approval ratings.

It later emerged that the seized vessels were armed beyond their regular loadouts and were planning a “stealth passage” of the strait, which separates mainland Russia and Crimea.

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