Russia vetoed a Western-backed resolution condemning the Crimea referendum at a UN Security Council emergency vote Saturday but China abstained, isolating Moscow further on the Ukraine crisis.
The draft resolution, which says Sunday’s referendum would have no validity, got 13 votes in the 15-member council. But it was rejected when permanent member Russia exercised its veto. “Russia, isolated, alone and wrong, blocked the resolution’s passage,” US ambassador Samantha Power told the council at its seventh emergency session on Ukraine since the crisis began.
“This is a sad and remarkable moment,” she said. “As we speak, Russian armed forces are massing across Ukraine’s eastern border,” she added in a short speech.
China often backs Russia at the council, especially on Syria-related votes, and Western diplomats had seen its abstention as the best possible outcome from Saturday’s vote.
Ukraine accused Russian forces on Saturday of invading a region in the southeast of the country neighbouring Crimea and vowed to use “all necessary measures” to ward off the attack.
The Ukraine foreign ministry said Russia’s forces had seized the village of Strilkove off the northeastern edge of the Crimean peninsula and said the country “reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia”.
Earlier, Two people were killed in clashes that broke out between pro-Moscow and pro-Kiev supporters in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv, police said today, the second such deadly incident in as many days in the country’s tinderbox east.
The deaths were likely to further fuel tensions in the region as it heads into the referendum.