UN urges Russia to immediately desist from claiming Crimea

New York: The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution urging Russia to immediately withdraw all its military forces from Crimea “and end its temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine without delay.”

The vote count in the 193-member world body on Monday, US time, was 63-17 with 62 abstentions, close to the vote on a similar resolution adopted last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a navy exercise from the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser in the Black Sea, Crimea, in January.Credit:AP

The measure, which is not legally binding but a reflection of world opinion, was supported by Western nations and their supporters and opposed by Russia and its supporters including China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Syria.

Russia sent troops into Crimea and annexed the peninsula in 2014. It has supported separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine in a six-year war that has killed 14,000 people. An uneasy ceasefire has been in effect since late July.

The resolution condemned the occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastapol by Russia and reaffirmed “the non-recognition of its annexation”. It affirmed that “the seizure of Crimea by force is illegal and a violation of international law," and said it must be “immediately returned”.

The General Assembly called on all UN member nations and international organisations to cooperate with the UN and support efforts to end Russia’s occupation of Crimea “as rapidly as possible.”

A Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of gunmen in unmarked uniforms but Russian vehicles as they stand guard in Balaklava, on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, on March 1, 2014.Credit:AP

The global body reiterated its “grave concern over the progressive militarisation of Crimea” by Russia, and its transfer of advanced weapon systems “including nuclear-capable aircraft and missiles, weapons, ammunition and military personnel to the territory of Ukraine”. It urged Russia “to stop such activity without delay”.

The resolution condemned Russia’s use of seized Ukrainian military industry enterprises in Crimea, called on Moscow to stop its efforts to extend jurisdiction over nuclear facilities and material in Crimea, and opposed Russia’s conscription of Crimea residents including those with Ukrainian citizenship.

It also condemned Russia’s construction of warships in Crimea and called on Moscow to refrain from impeding lawful navigation under international law in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

AP

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