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UN General Assembly Declares Crimean Vote to Join Russia Invalid

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution declaring that the Crimean referendum to join Russia is invalid and refused to recognize Moscow's takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula.

Meanwhile, in Washington on Thursday, the House of Representatives and the Senate approved similar $1 billion aid packages for Ukraine.
The measures formally impose sanctions against some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest advisers for supporting Moscow's annexation of Crimea. The House and Senate bills must be reconciled before they can go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

One hundred countries voted for the Ukraine-sponsored U.N. resolution, 11 opposed it and 58 abstained. Unlike measures in the more powerful Security Council, General Assembly resolutions cannot be vetoed, but they are not legally binding.

Russia, as one of five permanent members of the Security Council with veto power, has blocked action there condemning its Crimean annexation. Russia added Crimea to its map after the peninsula's largely Russian-speaking population voted massively earlier this month to leave Ukraine for Russia.

Before the General Assembly vote, Ukraine's foreign minister, Andriy Deshchytsia, said Russia had "ruthlessly trampled" its territorial integrity in the Crimean takeover.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, called for rejection of the measure, saying it was "confrontational in nature." Churkin said the Crimeans had voiced their right to self-determination in wanting to join Russia.

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