UN resolution condemns Russia's occupation of Crimea

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the city of Sebastapol and urging the withdrawal of its military forces “without delay.”

The vote in the 193-member assembly was 63-19 in favor of the measure, while 66 nations abstained and 45 did not vote.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, though they do reflect world opinion.

The resolution expresses the assembly’s “grave concern over the progressive militarization of Crimea by the Russian Federation as the occupying power,” its use of seized Ukranian military industry enterprises, and the conscription of Crimean residents into the Russian armed forces.

It expresses the assembly’s “utmost concern about the dangerous increase in tensions and the unjustified use of force by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

The resolution also expresses concern at Russia’s actions in parts of the Black Sea surrounding Crimea and in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

It welcomes Russia’s release of 24 crew members of three Ukrainian naval vessels it seized last November and encouraged “further negotiations to ensure the release by the Russian Federation of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens and their safe return to Ukraine.”

Russia sent troops into Crimea and annexed it in 2014, It has also supported separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The General Assembly in 2014 reaffirmed Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and has adopted resolutions on the problems of the militarization and of human rights in Crimea.