Russia vetoes the UN resolution on the announced annexation, and China abstains from the vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia on Friday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution introduced by the United States and Albania condemning Moscow’s declaration to annex parts of Ukraine, with Russia’s strategic partner, China, abstaining.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russian rule over four regions that make up 15% of Ukraine’s territory – the largest annexation in Europe since World War II. This move was vigorously rejected by Western countries and even many of Russia’s close allies.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield introduced the resolution which called on member states not to recognize any change in Ukraine’s status and obligated Russia to withdraw its forces.

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Speaking in the council chamber, she said an attempt to annex the territory of a sovereign state goes against the founding principles of the United Nations, and said Putin was celebrating “this clear violation of international law” with a concert held after his announcement of the annexation on Friday.

Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution, while China, Gabon, India and Brazil abstained.

“Not one country voted for Russia. Not one country,” Thomas Greenfield told reporters after the meeting, adding that the abstention was “clearly not in defense of Russia.”

She said Washington would turn to the 193-member United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia’s actions.

“In the General Assembly, the nations of the world will say loud and clear: It is illegal, and simply unacceptable, to attempt to redraw the borders of another country by force,” Thomas Greenfield said.

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Attachments “Fantasy”

Russia is trying to shake off its international isolation after nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly voted to rebuke Moscow and demand it withdraw its forces within a week of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, who raised his hand to give the only vote against the resolution, said the regions where Moscow had seized territory by force and where fighting was still raging, chose to be part of Russia. Kyiv and Western leaders denounced the referendums as deception.

“There will be no retreat as today’s draft resolution will try to impose it,” Nebenzia said.

The only hand raised against the resolution “testifies once again to Russia’s isolation and its desperate attempts to deny reality in our common commitments, starting with the UN Charter,” said Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergei Kisletsya.

British envoy Barbara Woodward said Russia had “abused its veto to defend its illegal actions” but said the annexation “has no legal effect”. “It’s a fantasy,” she added.

Beijing uncomfortable

China abstained from the vote on the resolution, but it raised concerns about a “protracted and expanded crisis” in Ukraine.

China has remained neutral on the conflict, criticizing Western sanctions against Russia but stopping short of endorsing or helping the military campaign, despite the two countries declaring a “borderless” strategic partnership in February. In a surprising admission, Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has concerns about Ukraine.

Beijing’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said that while “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be protected,” the “legitimate security concerns of countries” should also be taken seriously.

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A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said China’s abstention showed that Russia’s “hustle and bustle” and moves that threaten countries’ territorial integrity put China in an “uncomfortable position”.

“We don’t have China’s involvement in this more aggressive agenda that Russia is trying to sell,” the official said.

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(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Timothy Gardner) Additional reporting by Michael Martina. Editing by Franklin Poole, Jonathan Otis and David Gregorio

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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