The Russian delegation to the United Nations vetoed a resolution on Saturday that would have denounced the pro-Russian results of a series of recent referendums in territories in eastern Ukraine to join Russia.
Last month, four eastern Ukrainian territories ― Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia ― held referendums on whether or not to be included as part of Russia. The elections were held in areas controlled or partially-controlled by Russian occupying forces and have been denounced by the U.S. and other western nations as “sham” elections. On Friday, Sept. 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed so-called “accession treaties” signifying the results of the elections for Russia and declared the four territories part of Russia.
On the same day Putin declared the new Russian territories, U.S. advanced a resolution in the 15-member United Nations Security Council (U.N.S.C.) that would have declared the referenda invalid. The U.S. introduced the measure with Albania and garnered the support of 10 member nations.
Russia, being a permanent member of the 15-member U.N. body, had the power to veto the measure and did so immediately. The five permanent U.N.S.C. members are the U.S. China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom. If any permanent member vetoes a measure, it is void.
Four other U.N.S.C. abstained from voting on the resolution against the Ukraine referenda. Those members were China, Brazil, Gabon and India.
Following the vote on the resolution, Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called the U.N.S.C. and its veto rules a “broken pillar of the United Nations.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas Greenfield said, “Not a single country voted with Russia. Not one. You cannot go door to door, hold people at gunpoint, and force them to vote for your sham referendum. You cannot seize another U.N. Member State’s territory by force and call it your own.”
“You also just saw Russia, once again, shield itself from accountability and responsibility by using the veto,” Greenfield added. “This is not surprising, but it is a disgrace to this institution. It’s an insult to every Member State that has signed on to the U.N. Charter.”
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia said the U.N.S.C. has never approved a single resolution specifically condemning one of its members.
“Do you seriously expect Russia to consider and support such a draft?” Nebenzia asked.
Nebenzia further argued that “the results of the referendums speak for themselves — the residents of these regions do not want to return to Ukraine.” He also argued that the votes fully complied with international law.
On Monday, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk proposed throwing out the results of the recent referenda and doing the elections over under direct U.N. supervision. Musk added the conditions that Russia would leave if the people in those territories don’t vote to join Russia. Russian Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded more favorably to Musk’s proposal, saying Musk was “looking for a peaceful way out.”