Russia vetoes UN resolution on Crimea

A UN Security Council resolution that would have urged member states not to recognize the results of the referendum vote on annexation in the Crimea failed when Russia exercised its veto to defeat it. China, which can usually be counted on to support Moscow at the UN, abstained.

Voice of America:

Russia deployed its veto at the U.N. Security Council Saturday, blocking a resolution condemning the referendum slated for Sunday in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. If passed, it would see the Black Sea peninsula secede from the country and join Russia.

The move came as Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations warned that Russian paratroopers have crossed the Crimean border into the Ukrainian mainland.

At the U.N, the United States put forward the resolution in a strategic effort to demonstrate the extent of Russia's political isolation, and attempted to reaffirm Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence while calling on states not to recognize the results of the referendum.

Although it was not adopted, the effort succeeded to the extent that China — Moscow's close ally and another veto-wielding council member — abstained instead of siding with Russia.

In remarks to the council, China's envoy urged the quick establishment of an international coordinating mechanism to explore a political settlement. He also said all parties should refrain from actions that would escalate tensions, and suggested that international financial institutions should explore how to maintain Ukraine's economic and financial stability.

The largely symbolic Security Council maneuvers are unlikely to change Moscow's mind and or deescalate the situation, let alone derail the referendum, which is scheduled for March 16. Russian troops have been amassing both on the Ukrainian-Russian border and inside the autonomous Crimea region, and Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, told the council that Russia's military aggression is escalating.

“Russian troops entered the mainland of the south from Crimea. Now we are facing new developments and we are to face further dangerous stance of Russian Federation, and I appeal to all of you to find means and measures in the Security Council and United Nations, as well as on bilateral level, to do utmost to stop the aggressor, here present by the Russian delegation,” he said.

There is little doubt that the vast majority of people in the Crimea want to rejoin Russia, although one might question the legitimacy of a vote with 10,000 Russian soldiers walking around. Still, that hardly matters. There are deep cultural and ethnic ties to Russia and the people who live in the Crimea have a case to make that they should be able to decide their own destiny.

The problem is, they shouldn't be making the case to Russia, but to Ukraine. The Crimea is recognized internationally as being part of Ukraine, It is the government of Ukraine that should be deciding whether they can hold a referendum, not Vladimir Putin. That's what makes the vote illegitimate.

Putin is still massing troops at Ukraine's border, threatening to invade. It's hard to see this as a bluff. Does the Russian president want a shooting war? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

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