Despite strong pressure by the US and other countries to support a resolution declaring Crimea's referendum invalid, the results of the UN General Assembly vote show Russia is not isolated in its stance on the Ukraine crisis, envoy Vitaly Churkin said.
“Very many countries complained that they were undergoing colossal pressure on the part of Western powers to vote in support of that resolution,” Churkin told journalists after the vote, adding that he believes the pressure “produced a certain effect.”
“Some countries voted grudgingly, shall I say, and complained to us about the strong pressure they had experienced,” Churkin told ITAR-TASS.
Despite the General Assembly’s approval of the non-binding resolution 11 votes against and 58 abstentions in the process showed that Russia is not isolated.
Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe all voted against the resolution against the secession referendum in Crimea.
“Many have abstained, some have sided with Russia in voting against the resolution. But the trend is evident. Following the vote in the Security Council, some of our Western partners rushed to declare Russia ‘isolated’,” Churkin said.
“I see what has happened as a positive development. Even though a modest majority of the General Assembly have voted in favor of a resolution that Russia opposed, I still like the trend we are seeing,” he said. “This time around, it is obvious there is no isolation. We don’t have the majority behind us today, but a positive trend is apparent.”
An increasing number of countries are coming to understand the specifics of what has been going on in Ukraine and in Crimea, Churkin added.
Yet more than 100 countries voted for a document calling to affirm "commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."
“The international community has sent a strong message through the passing of this resolution that Russia cannot simply trample over international law," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement after the vote.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power tweeted that “by passing today's #UN resolution, world made clear that borders are not mere suggestions.”
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) March 27, 2014
Among the countries abstaining in the vote were China and a number of Latin American and African nations.
Before the vote, Churkin called the resolution “confrontational in nature,” adding that Russia’s attitude towards the resolution is “negative,” as the document “is trying to call into doubt the significance of the referendum in Crimea, which has already played its historic role.”
He once again reiterated that “Russia could not deny the people of Crimea the right to self-determination,” calling the peninsula's reunification with Russia a “celebration of historical justice.”
One hundred UN member countries voted in favor of the resolution on Thursday, while 11 voted against and 58 abstained. Only 168 out of 193 UN member states were present at the General Assembly in New York.