Ukraine asks UN to adopt Crimea resolution

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Ukraine's acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia speaks to delegates during the plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention of armed conflict, at the U.N. headquarters in New York. Photo - Reuters

Kiev .-  Ukraine asked the UN General Assembly to deter the risk of any future Russian aggression by adopting on Thursday a resolution denouncing its annexation of Crimea. 

"It sends an essential message that the international community will not allow what has happened in Crimea to set a precedent to further challenges to our rules based in framework," acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya told the assembly. 

The General Assembly will vote on Thursday on the Ukrainian-drafted resolution, which will be non-binding if adopted by a majority of the body's 193 members. 

Western diplomats want a strong majority vote to press home what they say is Russia's isolation, but there are fears that a high number of countries will abstain from the vote. 

A similar resolution passed in 2009 over the Georgia crisis was adopted by 48 votes. Seventy-eight countries abstained and 19 voted against. 

Ukraine said on Thursday that a vote for the resolution was a vote for the UN charter, while a vote against or an abstention equalled undermining it. 

"One month has cost us dearly. More inaction may cost us this organisation," he added. 

Ukraine submitted the draft resolution, writing the text in moderate language in the hope of attracting a maximum number of votes, and it makes no direct reference to Russia. 

The text is similar to a US-drafted resolution submitted to the Security Council on March 19, which Russia vetoed. China abstained and the other 13 members of the council voted in favour. 

Thursday's resolution repeats that the March 16 referendum in Crimea has "no validity" and asks countries not to recognise any alteration of the status of the Black Sea peninsula. 

It calls on all states to refrain from any attempts to modify Ukraine's borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means and calls for dialogue to resolve the crisis. 

The United States backed Ukraine's request and criticized Russia. 

US Ambassador Samantha Power told the assembly it was "disheartening in the extreme to see Russia carry on as if Ukrainians have no legitimate interest in Crimea." 

"Ukraine is justified in seeking our votes in reaffirming and protecting its borders," Power said. 

"We urge you to vote yes on a resolution that enshrines the centrality of territorial integrity and that calls for a diplomatic not a military solution to this crisis," she said. 

Russia stuck to its guns, saying it had no right to refuse support to Crimeans in their right to self-determination. 

"For several centuries," Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the assembly, Crimea was "an integral part of our country. 

"Only an arbitrary decision by the USSR to transfer it to Ukraine upset this natural sate of affairs," he said. AFP




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