Putin’s manipulation of domestic and world opinion apparently isn’t working well. The largest anti-Putin demonstration since 2012 was held in Moscow today and Russia was forced to veto a UN resolution that called on nations not to recognize Putin’s putsch in the Crimea.
The U.S.-drafted resolution was defeated 13-1, with one abstention by China. The only uncertainty going into Saturday’s vote was whether China would also cast a veto.
Western diplomats said they forced Russia to block the resolution to highlight Moscow’s international isolation.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi has called the Crimean crisis “highly complex and sensitive” and has condemned acts of violence by “extremists.” But China has reiterated it long-held stance supporting territorial integrity and against interference in a nation’s affairs.
Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the U.N., called the veto “a sad moment.”
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, speaking before the vote, acknowledged that secession is an “extraordinary” act but defended Crimea’s right to vote for it.
U.K. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said, “The resounding message from today’s vote is that Russia stands isolated in this council, and in the international community.
“Russia alone backs this referendum. Russia alone is prepared to violate international law, disregard the U.N. charter, and tear up its bilateral treaties,” he said. “This message will be heard well beyond the walls of this chamber.”
No doubt that’s true, except it won’t be heard where it would matter — in Moscow. Putin is beyond caring — if he ever did — what the rest of the world thinks of his Crimean gambit. Whatever he has planned past his guaranteed victory at the Crimean polls tomorrow, it won’t matter a fig what the U.S. or western Europe thinks about it.
The stage is set, the overture is playing, and the Russian president is bringing up the curtain.