Mark Nuckols

Meanwhile, the United States assembled an impressive column of yes votes. Voting to condemn Russia’s bogus referendum and illegal annexation of Crimea were 100 U.N. states. They included the entire G-7, every single member of the European Union, and 29 out of 30 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Israel excepted). It also included major Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand and Australia. Of the abstaining and absent votes, only four are significant: China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The rest of the abstainers are various minor third world countries such as Myanmar and Ecuador. The four BRICS countries have their own reasons not to support the U.S. position, for example China’s annexation of Tibet may make it hesitant to condemn Russia’s own annexations in Georgia and Ukraine. And they are hesitant to endorse a U.S. position merely on the principle that doing so somehow compromises their diplomatic independence. But they pointedly forwent an opportunity to side with Russia.

If you aggregate the GDPs of the countries that sided with America, their total economic heft is approximately sixty times the size of Russia’s “coalition.” And virtually all of the important democratic states that voted against Russia also happen to be allied militarily with America, while none of Russia’s “partners” has a formal alliance with Moscow, except for Belarus and Armenia.

The General Assembly vote has no formal force or means of enforcement, but it represents a resounding condemnation by the world community of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It also vividly highlights just how deeply unpopular and isolated Russia truly is. The United States is still militarily and diplomatically the one essential player on the world stage, whether the Kremlin likes it or not. . President Obama should keep this fact front and center in his dealings with the rogue states of the world, including Russia.

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.