On December 9, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Russian Federation to withdraw its military forces from Crimea and end its temporary occupation of Ukraine’s territory without delay.
The Assembly expressed grave concern about the Russian Federation’s militarization and reports of its continuing destabilization of Crimea through the transfer of weapons to Ukraine. It condemned the growing Russian military presence in parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the harassment of commercial vessels and the construction and opening of the Kerch Strait bridge.
63 countries backed the resolution titled ‘Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov’.
In turn, 19 countries, including Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, voted against adopting the document, another 66 abstained.
Most of UN member states did not recognise the 2014 referendum in Crimea. G7, NATO member states, the European Union, the Council of Europe regarded the Russian actions as aggression and violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In April 2014, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted a law declaring Crimea and the city of Sevastopol city the territory seized as a result of ‘the armed aggression of the Russian Federation’. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague recognised the annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and a Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Officially, Belarus has never recognised Crimea as part of Russia. For example, after the conflict in Donbas broke out, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Ukraine ‘should stay united’ but stressed that ‘Crimea is de facto Russia’s territory’. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, however, recommends the citizens to take into account the norms of Ukrainian legislation while travelling to Crimea.