Mark Nuckols

On Thursday, the 193-member General Assembly of the United Nations voted 100 to 11 to denounce the Crimean referendum - a balloting that paved the way for the absorption of the peninsula into Russia - as illegal. Another 58 countries abstained, while the remaining 24 did not vote.

The 10 votes that Russia mustered against the resolution came from Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. "The result is rather satisfying for us as we have won a moral and a political victory," the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said, RIA Novosti reported. "It clearly shows that Russia is not isolated."

This vote shows rather vividly the global coalition that Russia can rely upon diplomatically. Armenia relies on Russian military support in its ongoing frozen conflict with Azerbaijan, and predictably felt obliged to support the Russian position in Crimea. As for the almost all the other nine votes in favor of the Kremlin, it’s a membership roster of rogue states that like Russia routinely scorn international norms. Belarus, “the last dictatorship in Europe” is can usually be counted on to be a reliable diplomatic partner for Moscow.

Then there is Syria, waging a brutal war on its own population, utterly dependent on critical support from Moscow. Cuba and North Korean, the world’s two remaining orthodox totalitarian Communist dictatorships also lined up in place. Add another two of the world’s last dictatorships, Zimbabwe and Sudan, to Russia’s column.

Apparently, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela couldn’t resist the old tradition of nursing ancient grievances against the United States and voting for Russia merely to spite their northern neighbor.

There you have it – a motley collection of client states, failing dictatorships and three disgruntled Latin American states reflexively voting against anything America is for. That’s the extent of global support for Russia’s illegal annexation of territory belonging to a neighboring country. If the Kremlin takes this as proof that Russia isn’t isolated on the world stage, I have to wonder what it would take to convince Putin and his cabal otherwise.

Mark Nuckols

Mark Nuckols teaches law and business in Moscow. He has a JD from Georgetown and an MBA from Dartmouth. He has lived in Eastern Europe for most of the last 20 years, including Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Georgia.