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15 Mar, 2014 15:20

Russia vetoes US-sponsored UN resolution declaring Crimea vote invalid

Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council’s resolution declaring the upcoming referendum on the future status of autonomous republic of Crimea invalid and urging all states not to recognize its results.

China abstained as 13 council members supported the resolution and Russia voted against.

Security Council resolution on #Ukraine not adopted. Vote: In favour 13. Against 1 (Russia). Abstention 1 (China). http://t.co/WhwXXmV8an

— United Nations (@UN) March 15, 2014

The draft resolution noted that the Ukrainian government in Kiev has not authorized the referendum and said that it cannot be valid.

This referendum can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status,” the documents reads.

Moscow has a veto right as one of five permanent members of the Security Council.

It was “no secret that Russia would vote against the US draft resolution,” Russia’s envoy at the UN Vitaly Churkin said ahead of the voting. He added that Moscow would respect the choice of Crimeans.

We cannot accept its basic assumption: to declare illegal the planned March 16 referendum where there residents of the Republic of Crimea should decide on their future,” Churkin said, explaining Moscow’s decision to veto the proposed document.

The philosophy of the authors of the draft runs counter to one of the basic principles of the international law – the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Article 1 of the UN Charter,” the Russian diplomat said.

Liu Jieyi, China's Ambassador to the United Nations

This principle was also confirmed by the 1970 UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law, and a number of other decisions by the UN General Assembly, and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, Churkin said.

Russia does not dispute the principle of territorial integrity, which is “of, course, very important,” the envoy said.

In is also understandable that enjoyment of the right of self-determination through a separation from an existing state is an extraordinary measure, applied when future coexistence within a single state becomes impossible,” Churkin said.

In the majority of cases it was implemented without the agreement of the state authorities.

Crimea’s coexisting within Ukraine apparently became impossible as a result of “legal vacuum” that followed the “unconstitutional armed coup” carried out in Kiev by radical nationalists in February and direct threats by these individuals to set their order across Ukraine, Russia’s UN representative said.

On Sunday, the Crimeans are going to decide if they want the republic to remain a part of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation.

European nations and the US said earlier they would not recognize the outcome of the referendum and warned Russia of sanctions over its stance on Ukraine.

Speaking after the vote by the 15-member Security Council, Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN said it was “a sad and remarkable moment”.

France’s envoy, Gerard Araud, said he was incredulous at what he called Russia's annexation of Crimea, under the pretext of protecting Russians in the region. “This annexation ... goes beyond Ukraine, it concerns us all,” he said, as cited by Reuters. “This veto must be seen as a defeat only for Russia.”

Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that the “the resounding message” from the vote is that “Russia stands isolated in this council and in the international community”.

Beijing, traditionally very sensitive when it comes to territorial integrity particularly because of Tibet, reiterated its support for “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.” China's ambassador to the UN, Liu Jieyi called for a political solution and an “international coordinating mechanism” to resolve the dispute, cited AP.

Resolution ‘ungrounded’, aimed to serve US geopolitical interests

The UN resolution is focused on alleged illegitimacy of the upcoming referendum in Crimea, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after the vote. Creating an atmosphere of distrust and falsehood appears to be the main goal of the authors, the ministry added.

According to Russian diplomats, the US proposal regarding a UN resolution on the situation in Ukraine was ungrounded. It can only be explained by Americans’ “overwhelming desire” to politicize already complicated situation and continue aggravating international hysteria around the former Soviet republic for the benefit of the US geopolitical interests.

The very initiative had no grounds from the beginning since events in Ukraine do not pose any threat to international peace and security – that the Security Council deals with in accordance with the UN Charter,” the statement posted on the ministry’s website reads.

Employees prepare the polling booth in one of the polling stations of Sevastopol on March 15, 2014, on the eve of the referendum in Crimea.(AFP Photo / Viktor Drachev)

Washington does not care about Ukrainian stability, prosperity and safety, Moscow said.

They are still using ‘Cold War’ categories – which should seem to be forgotten long ago – in order to impose their view of Ukrainian political structure,” said the Foreign Ministry's department of information and press.

Russia hopes though that the UN member-states, who have so far been biased in their approach to the situation in Ukraine, will take a path of constructive cooperation on the settlement of the crisis and providing rights of all the citizens, including in eastern and south-eastern regions of the country, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin press-secretary believes speculations regarding Russia’s “self-isolation” in connection with the events in Ukraine are absurd.

It would be illogical, unrealistic and absurd today – in the era of globalization and total economic interdependence,” Dmitry Peskov said Saturday in an interview with Russian REN-TV channel.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson believes that current contradictions between Moscow and western partners are not about a new ‘Cold War.’

We sincerely believe that both we and our partners will have enough political wisdom and political realism to avoid further deepening of ideological or any other standoff over Ukraine,” Peskov said. Despite remaining differences, Russia really does appreciate its continuing contacts with representatives of other states.