U.N. General Assembly Toothlessly Declares That Crimea's Annexation Is Illegal

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The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution Thursday that declares Russia's annexation of Crimea illegal. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean much for the Crimean citizens trapped under Russian rule. 

The resolution, which passed with 100 votes in favour, 11 opposed, and 58 abstentions, represents the world's general opinion on the matter of Ukraine's territorial integrity and Russia decision to seize Crimea. Previously, President Obama called the referendum 'illegal' before announcing more sanctions against the country. The U.N. General Assembly vote signals that most countries agree (or aren't willing to disagree) with him. 

Of course, this General Assembly vote means nothing of any consequence, though. General Assembly votes are merely ceremonial; they are not legally binding. Only the Security Council has the power to levy and enforce any kind of punishments, and since Russia sits on the Security Council — and has veto power over it — they have little to be afraid of.

Tomorrow is when something, if anything, significant may happen. The U.N. Security Council will meet with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday to discuss the situation in Crimea. Security Council votes are legally binding and much more will be at stake. The top eight countries in the Security Council can potentially veto any resolution put forward. Unless Russia is forced to abstain from voting, considering they are the subject of discussion and any subsequent resolution, Putin will likely escape unscathed, again. If not, the consequences for Russia could be serious. Even if no resolution makes it through, it's still a chance for the U.S. and other nations to confront the Russians directly, so that meeting will be one to watch. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.