UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine is hoping the United Nations General Assembly will adopt a resolution later this week reaffirming the country's unity and territorial integrity and underscoring that the referendum that led to Crimea's annexation by Russia "has no validity."
The draft resolution, circulated Monday to the 193 assembly members and obtained by The Associated Press, never mentions Russia by name but calls on all countries not to recognize "any alteration of the status" of Crimea.
It also urges all parties to pursue a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine, "refrain from unilateral actions and inflammatory rhetoric that may increase tensions, and to engage fully with international mediation efforts."
The General Assembly's resolutions are not legally binding but they reflect world opinion, and Ukraine will be looking for a strong "yes" vote to show Russia's international isolation.
The U.N.'s most powerful body, the Security Council, has been blocked from taking any action because Russia, has veto power as one of its five permanent members. Even so, the 15-member council has held eight meetings on Ukraine, as Western powers strive to keep up the pressure on Moscow.
On March 15, Russia vetoed a council resolution declaring the referendum on Crimea illegal. Supporters of the U.S.-sponsored resolution expected the veto but went ahead with the vote to show the strength of opposition to Russia's takeover of Crimea. Thirteen council members voted in favor of the resolution. China, Russia's usual ally on the Security Council, abstained rather than joining Russia in voting "no."
Unlike the council, the General Assembly has no vetoes.
Crimea has been at the center of Europe's greatest geopolitical crisis since the end of the Cold War. Russian troops took over the Ukrainian peninsula, where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based, and Moscow officially annexed Crimea following a referendum last week.
The upheaval in Crimea is the fallout of months of anti-government protests and outbursts of violence that led to the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled last month.
The U.S. and European Union have denounced Moscow's action as illegal.
The draft resolution is expected to be put to a vote Thursday at a General Assembly meeting, where many member states will have their first opportunity to speak on the crisis in Ukraine.
The document reaffirms that under the U.N. Charter all states must refrain "from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, and to settle their international disputes by peaceful means."
It would also affirm the General Assembly's "commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders." And it would call on all states "to desist and refrain from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including any attempts to modify Ukraine's borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means."