On September 30, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s attempted annexation of four Ukrainian regions: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya. None of them were fully under Russia’s control. Putin’s announcement quickly followed staged, transparently sham “referenda” purporting to show that Ukrainian citizens living in these areas agreed with Russia’s attempted annexation.
“As in 2014, [when Putin announced Russia’s purported annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula,] Russia is testing the resolve of the world to stand up for the core principles of international law,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield in mid-October, during a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“How else do you explain the flagrant disregard of the values of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and peace and security? How else do you explain the horrific attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure that we’ve seen this week? How else do you explain the saber-rattling from Putin and his veiled threats of deploying nuclear force? These are threats against this institution. They are threats against all of us.”
Speaking in the run-up to a vote on a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling on countries not to recognize Russia’s attempt to annex these four regions of Ukraine, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said that Russia’s actions have no place in our modern world.
“That is why this resolution calls for peace, and it calls for de-escalation. But it also makes clear that we reject Russia’s attempted annexations, that we reject this affront to territorial integrity, to national sovereignty, to peace and security.”
The Resolution passed with 143 member states in favor, 5 against and 35 nations abstaining from the vote.
“The resolution sends an enormously important signal to Moscow and to everyone,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
“It does not matter if you as a nation are big or small, rich or poor, old or new. If you are a UN Member State, your borders are your own and are protected by international law. And that goes for every single country in the UN. They cannot be redrawn by anyone else by force.”
“[The] vote has a practical effect. It means that in the eyes of the world and the United Nations, Ukraine’s borders remain the same,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
As Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said, “Kherson is Ukraine. Zaporizhzhya is Ukraine. Donetsk is Ukraine. Luhansk is Ukraine. And Ukraine remains Ukraine.”