Russia has vetoed a UN resolution declaring tomorrow's referendum on the future of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula illegal, but its close ally China abstained in a show of Moscow's isolation.
Supporters of the US-sponsored resolution knew that Russia would use its veto. But they put the resolution to a vote this morning to show the strength of opposition to Moscow's takeover of Crimea. The 13 other council members voted yes.
The resolution would have reaffirmed the council's commitment to Ukraine's "sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity".
Supporters of Ukraine's territorial integrity had hoped to demonstrate the strength of opposition to Russia's takeover and possible annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in the vote.
The resolution would also have declared that tomorrow's referendum on whether Crimea should become part of Russia "can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea".
US ambassador Samantha Power said the resolution is aimed at "showing the extent of Russia's isolation as it pursues a non-peaceful path".
The draft resolution also urged all parties "to pursue immediately the peaceful resolution of this dispute through direct political dialogue", to protect the rights of minorities in Ukraine.
China is very sensitive to the issue of territorial integrity because of Tibet and other restive areas, and China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi reiterated Beijing's support again on Thursday for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for not interfering in other countries' internal affairs.
The Security Council has held six meetings on Ukraine in less than two weeks but has been unable to take any action because of Russia's veto power.
A six-hour meeting in London yesterday between US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov failed to delay the referendum.
Mr Lavrov said Moscow will make no decisions about Crimea's future, including whether to embrace it as a new territory, until after tomorrow's vote, but Mr Kerry said the results are all but a foregone conclusion, and urged Russia's parliament against accepting any offer to claim Crimea as its own.
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