Report: Russia threatened countries in advance of UN vote
Reuters is reporting that prior to the UN General Assembly vote on the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, Moscow threatened several states in Eastern Europe and elsewhere with retaliation unless they voted against it.
Russia threatened several Eastern European and Central Asian states with retaliation if they voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution this week declaring invalid Crimea's referendum on seceding from Ukraine, U.N. diplomats said.
The disclosures about Russian threats came after Moscow accused Western countries of using "shameless pressure, up to the point of political blackmail and economic threats," in an attempt to coerce the United Nations' 193 member states to join it in supporting the non-binding resolution on the Ukraine crisis.
According to interviews with U.N. diplomats, most of whom preferred to speak on condition of anonymity for fear of angering Moscow, the targets of Russian threats included Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as a number of African countries.
A spokesman for Russia's Mission to the U.N. denied that Moscow threatened any country with retaliation if it supported the resolution, saying: "We never threaten anyone. We just explain the situation."
According to the diplomats, the Russian threats were not specific. But they said it was clear to the recipients of the warnings not to support the resolution that retaliatory measures could include steps such as expelling migrant workers from Russia, halting natural gas supplies or banning certain imports to Russia to cause economic harm.
In the end, the Ukrainian resolution declaring Crimea's vote on March 16 in favor of seceding from Ukraine as having "no validity" passed with 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions. Another 24 U.N. member states did not cast votes.
Two of the countries mentioned in the above article abstained from voting. But despite the alleged threats, little Moldova stood with the US and the EU in voting to condemn Russia.
But the Ambassador of Moldova to the U.N., Vladimir Lupan, agreed to speak about the issue. Asked if the Russians had given any indication, direct or indirect, that the former Soviet republic could be punished for a yes vote, Lupan said: "I wasn't present at this particular discussion and I can neither infer nor confirm this to you."
"And normally before you vote, you discuss this with a number of countries," he told Reuters. "This matter was indeed discussed between the Moldovan authorities and the Russian authorities. We also discussed this with our (European Union) partners."
"Of course, we had two different points of view - one from the Russian Federation in favor of a no vote and, for example, the European Union in favor of a positive vote," Lupan said, adding that his country was attempting to resolve all outstanding issues with Russia peacefully and through dialogue.
Moldova currently has several thousand Russian troops on its borders, so their vote was not an insignificant gesture.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud calls Moscow "A bad loser." But it's far more than that - especially in Eastern Europe The former Soviet bloc nations are getting very uncomfortable with Russia's aggressive posture and talk by Moscow of a "Eurasian Union." They are beginning to wonder; Would France send its sons to die for Poles? Or Germany? Or even America? NATO is a hollow shell and there is much to be done to reassure the former Warsaw Pact countries that the alliance will stand behind them if it comes to war.