The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution declaring invalid Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum earlier this month on seceding from Ukraine, in a vote that Western nations said highlighted Russia’s isolation. There were 100 votes in favour, 11 against and 58 abstentions in the 193-nation assembly. Two dozen countries did not participate in the vote, either because they did not show up or because they have not paid their dues, U.N. diplomats said. Western diplomats said the number of yes votes was higher than expected despite what they called Moscow’s aggressive lobbying efforts against the resolution. Before the vote, one senior Western diplomat had described a result with 80-90 yes votes as successful for Ukraine. Other Western diplomats agreed, saying the result showed how few active supporters Moscow has around the world.
The General Assembly resolution echoes a text Moscow vetoed earlier this month in the Security Council. The approved declaration dismisses Crimea’s vote as “having no validity, (and) cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the City of Sevastopol.”
The resolution, which does not mention Russia by name, says the General Assembly “calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status” of Crimea and Sevastopol.
Although the resolution is non-binding, Western diplomats said it sends a strong political message about Russia’s lack of broad support on the Crimean issue. They said the fact that Russia lobbied so hard to persuade U.N. member states not to vote for it was proof that Moscow took it seriously.