World News

Russia Vetoes UN Crimea Resolution, China Abstains

Russia has vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have urged countries not to recognize the results of a Sunday referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region.

Russia was the only Security Council member to vote against the measure on Saturday, while China abstained. The 13 other council members backed the measure.

China's decision to decline to follow Russia and veto the measure could indicate further isolation for Moscow for its support of the Crimean referendum.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the "message" from Saturday's vote was that "Russia stands isolated" in the Security Council and international community.

The referendum gives residents of Crimea two choices: join Russia or support a significant strengthening of Crimea's autonomy within Ukraine.

Shortly before the vote, Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin told the council the resolution ran counter to the principles of international law.

The measure would have affirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity by declaring Sunday's Crimea referendum could "have no validity."

After the vote, China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said his country's only option was to abstain because the draft U.N. resolution would only further complicate the situation in Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power reacted to the measure's defeat, saying "This is a sad and remarkable moment."

In another development Saturday, the Ukrainian military said it had repelled an attempt by Russian forces to enter a region near Crimea. Ukraine's defense ministry said its military used aircraft and ground forces to push back Russian forces.

In Moscow Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered for rival rallies on Crimea.

Supporters of the Crimea referendum waved Russian and Soviet Union flags as they marched to Moscow's Revolution Square. Many of them wore identical red and black outfits.

Separately, chanting opponents waved Ukrainian and Russian flags. Some voiced concern that Russian intervention in Crimea could lead to war.

Also, hundreds of people turned out for a rally in Kiev where they voiced support for Crimea remaining a part of Ukraine.



International monitors began arriving in Crimea on Saturday to observe Sunday's referendum vote. The monitors were invited by Russia and pro-Russian Crimean officials.

Alexander Simov, a Bulgarian journalist, said he believes the vote is legitimate.



"I am going to watch the whole process. To see... I think it that it is a legal referendum. So I think it is going to be very legal."



Another monitor, Helsinki University professor Johan Backman, said Western powers do not fully understand the situation in Crimea.



"Western politicians cannot understand what is going on. Because as far as I understand these countries and especially the U.S. have very weak informational base about what is going on in Russia first and secondly what is happening in Ukraine. And also western politicians of EU they do not really understand what happens in Russia. Western countries are at a dead end. In fact they cannot take any measures against Russia in this situation. And Russia is in control totally and securely."



U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Russian acceptance of a Crimean referendum to break off from Ukraine and join Russia would be an illegal "backdoor annexation."

Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for six hours in London Friday in an effort to defuse the tensions in Crimea.

If Sunday's vote passes and the Russian parliament ratifies it, Kerry said that would violate international law, and there will be consequences. He said this is not a threat against Russia but a matter of respecting international standards for annexation and independence.

Lavrov said in a separate news conference Friday that the talks with Kerry were useful, but the two have "no common vision" on Crimea. He said Russia will "respect the will of the Crimean people," and he criticized the threat of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia as "counterproductive."

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday he still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. But Kerry said it is clear Russian President Vladimir Putin will not make any moves until after Sunday's referendum.

The Kremlin says Mr. Putin told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a phone call that the referendum is "fully consistent with international law and the U.N. Charter." However, the U.S. and European Union say the referendum violates Ukraine's constitution and international law.

Moscow acknowledged Thursday that it is deploying thousands more troops and military hardware near the Ukrainian border for two weeks of military maneuvers.

The U.S. State Department says it is "very concerned" about the deployment. The U.S. estimates that Russia already may have 20,000 troops in Crimea.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is traveling to Poland and Lithuania next week to meet with regional partners to discuss events in Ukraine. A White House statement says Biden will consult on steps to support Ukraine's sovereignty, and affirm international "collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs