The UN General Assembly has rejected the mid-March referendum held in the Crimean peninsula that led to its annexation by Russia, affirming its commitment to Ukraine's unity and territorial integrity.
The 193-nation assembly adopted a non-binding resolution on the "territorial integrity of Ukraine", by a vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, calling on states, international organisations and specialised agencies not to recognise any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol.
In addition, the assembly urged all parties to immediately pursue a peaceful resolution of the situation through direct political dialogue and to refrain from unilateral actions and inflammatory rhetoric that could escalate tensions.
The 11 countries that voted against the resolution were Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said that Russia had forcibly annexed an integral part of Ukraine despite previously committing itself to guaranteeing its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, said the referendum had reunified Crimea with Russia, and called on everyone "to respect that voluntary choice".
Russia could not refuse the Crimeans' right to self-determination, Churkin added.
Russia had previously prevented the UN Security Council from adopting a similar draft resolution that would have declared the Crimean referendum "invalid" even before it was held.
According to Crimean authorities, more than 97% of Crimeans had voted for unification with Russia in 16 March's referendum, prompting Moscow to annex the Black Sea peninsula.
Image: The temporary General Assembly. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (file).