Staunton, March 28 – The United Nations General Assembly yesterday approved a resolution declaring the Moscow-organized “referendum” in Crimea illegal. The UN vote, of course, has no legal force, although it does highlight the emergence of new divisions in the international community, divisions that will certainly outlast the current crisis.
One hundred countries, including the United States and its European allies, voted in favor of the resolution. Against it and thus backing Moscow’s position were 11, including in addition to Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Fifty-eight countries abstained – including the BRIKS countries, which are often thought to be interested in stressing their commonality with Moscow ,China, India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Vietnam, Egypt and Uzbekistan, and some, like Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan, Serbia and Israel did not take part in the voting at all.
Of the many interesting aspects of this vote, two are immediately striking. On the one hand, the former Soviet space is deeply divided, with many of the countries in it are at least diplomatically unwilling to support Moscow against the United States and the majority of the international community, choosing to abstain or not participate at all.
And on the other, Russia has made a real beachhead in Latin America. In addition to Cuba which has been in Moscow’s camp since the 1960s, the Russian position was backed by Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, a pointed reminder of the decline in American influence in that part of the world.