The U.N. General Assembly has approved a strong rebuke of Moscow, calling the referendum leading to the annexation of Crimea illegal by a substantial margin of members voting, despite Russia's lobbying against the resolution.
The "Draft Resolution on Territorial Integrity of Ukraine" passed with 100 countries voting for it, 11 opposed, 58 abstentions. Two dozen countries did not vote either because their representatives were not present or their dues to the world body had lapsed.
The resolution says that the referendum in Crimea — in which the Kremlin says the population of the Black Sea peninsula voted overwhelmingly to join Russia — has "no validity." It calls for settling the crisis through political dialogue and for all sides to refrain from "inflammatory rhetoric."
The nonbinding resolution has mostly symbolic value, but is seen as a moral victory for Ukraine.
"This support has come from all corners of the world, which shows that this [is] not only a regional matter but a global one," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said after the vote.
The United Nations resolution comes on the same day that the International Monetary Fund approved a loan deal for Kiev worth as much as $18 billion, and the U.S. Congress approved $1 billion in loan guarantees for the country.
The White House's national security spokesman Ben Rhodes tweeted that the United Nations vote is the "latest signal of Russia's isolation and support for Ukraine."
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