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Churkin: Crimea within Ukraine impossible due to legal vacuum after coup

March 15, 2014, 21:16 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
1 pages in this article

UNITED NATIONS, March 15, /ITAR-TASS/. The existence of Crimea within Ukraine became impossible because of the legal vacuum created by the armed coup in Kiev, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Saturday, March 15, after he had vetoed the U.S. draft resolution proclaiming the referendum on the status of Crimea slated for March 16 unlawful.

He noted that “the exercise of the right to self-determination by means of separation from a state is an extraordinary measure that is used only when further co-existence within one state becomes impossible,”

“As far as Crimea is concerned, this case occurred because of the legal vacuum created by the unconstitutional armed coup staged in Kiev by radical nationalists in February 2014 and by their direct threats to establish ‘their order’ across Ukraine,” Churkin said.

He also explained why Russia had voted against the U.S. draft resolution on Crimea.

It could not support it because it is at odds with the right of people to self-determination enshrined in Article 1 of the U.N. Charter, Churkin said.

“We cannot agree with its underlying message that the referendum slated for March 16, during which the residents of the Republic of Crimea should determine their own future, will have no legal force. This reasoning by the authors of the text runs counter to one of the basic principles of international law - the principle of equality and self-determination of people set out in Article 1 of the U.N. Charter,” Churkin said after the vote in the Security Council.

He noted that this principle was “reaffirmed in the U.N. Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970 and several other decisions of the U.N. General Assembly, and in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.”

Russia vetoed the draft resolution. The draft proposed by the United States was supported by 13 member states attending the U.N. Security Council’s meeting on Saturday, March 15, with one abstention - China.

The latest version of the resolution proposed by the United States says that Ukraine has not authorised a referendum on the status of Crimea and therefore it cannot be considered lawful or serve as the basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. The document also urges all countries, international organisations and specialised agencies not to recognise the results of the plebiscite in Crimea.

Churkin said prior to the vote that Russia would block the resolution and stressed that Moscow was not questioning the principle of territorial integrity of states. However he recalled that “before 1954 Crimea was a part of Russia” and had been handed over to Ukraine “in violation of law and without taking into account the opinion of the people of Crimea.

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