But the UN has 193 members. On this resolution, there were 58 that abstained, and apparently there were 24 no-shows. In other words, while 100 states voted in favor of preserving the territorial integrity of Ukraine, there were 93 states that did not vote in favor. Those actively voting against the resolution included many of the usual bottom-of-the-barrel suspects: Belarus, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea, along with Armenia and Russia itself. Among those abstaining were such major countries as China and India.
To put this in perspective, this is a crowd in which an enormous number of states are less concerned with the collective preservation of civilized norms than with their own immediate interests, alliances and agendas. When it comes to important, recorded votes in the UN General Assembly, the U.S. is often more isolated than was Russia this week. One of the more appalling instances of that was a General Assembly vote in 2007, in which the member states voted themselves a fat new budget, the biggest share of that to come from U.S. taxpayers, and the vote was 142 to 1 — the lone nay vote being that of the U.S. For more on the perversity of UN voting records, here’s a link to my article on “The Twisted Conundrum of Funding the United Nations.”
In sum, it’s better than nothing that out of 193 UN member states, 100 voted in favor of a toothless resolution calling for nameless states to desist and refrain from violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine. But to count on that as a measure isolating Russia, or to look to the UN for a moral or political compass in these matters, would be folly. Leadership must come from someplace else.