Ukraine was predicting that the UN General Assembly would adopt a resolution yesterday reaffirming the country’s territorial integrity and calling the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation of its Crimean Peninsula illegal.
Ukrainian UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said on Wednesday that the resolution has “several dozen” co-sponsors and support from democratic countries around the world — but he would not predict the size of the “yes” vote.
Russia has mounted a campaign against the resolution, claiming the dispute is an East-West issue. Sergeyev said he has been speaking to regional groups and saying that Russia violated the UN Charter that guarantees the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine and that the country is not a member of any bloc.
Unlike resolutions in the powerful UN Security Council, resolutions in the 193-member General Assembly cannot be vetoed and are not legally binding, though they do reflect world opinion.
While Ukraine has a lot of sympathy among UN members, Russia has a lot of clout and diplomats say there are likely to be a significant number of abstentions.
One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said between 80 and 90 “yes” votes would send a strong message of opposition to Russia, but that would mean support from less than half the UN member states.
“The resolution will be voted in favor,” Sergeyev said. “But the importance is how deeply the United Nations membership understands the danger of the challenges the United Nations faces these days.”
He said Russia’s takeover and annexation of Crimea undermines the basic principles of the UN Charter and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum under which Russia, the US and Britain guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it surrendered its share of Soviet nuclear arsenals to Moscow after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.