Yesterday, upset at Russia’s “illegal” annexation of Crimea, Ukraine succeeded in embarrassing Moscow at the United Nations in New York. With the support of Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Lithuania and Poland, the Ukrainian government was able to push through a vote at the UN General Assembly in support of the “territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
The results were clear. A total of one hundred countries voted in favour of Kiev’s position that Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory was illegal under international law. Another forty-eight countries abstained from voting, most likely not wanting to damage relations with Moscow while also not wanting to endorse reckless military interventions. Eleven countries, led by Russia, voted against the Ukrainian position.
Just who is supporting Putin’s Ukrainian land grab? From A to Z, these are the 10 countries backing Putin:
Armenia, the most democratic on the list, is a small country in a tough neighbourhood. Turkey is its largest neighbour and remains angry at Yerevan’s never ending campaign to have the Armenian genocide recognized. Relations with its western neighbour Azerbaijan remain difficult, as they went to war the 1990s and remain bitter enemies. Armenia needs Russia for protection.
Belarus, described as the last dictatorship in Eastern Europe, is a client state of Russia. It is firmly in Moscow’s orbit and is led by a corrupt authoritarian ruler who sees eye to eye with Putin. No surprise here.
Bolivia, now seen as more Marxist that any other state in South America – including post-Hugo Chavez Venezuela –seems willing to ally itself with any country that is not capitalist. Under President Evo Morales, Bolivia has positioned itself as the vanguard of an anti-capitalist movement. Supporting Russia against the West seems like an ideological decision.
Cuba, although slowly opening up to the outside world despite a continued US embargo, has openly backed Russia’s position in supporting Syria’s murderous leader Assad, and therefore no one should be surprised that it supports the annexation of Crimea. Although Russia is no longer a communist state, the Cold War brought Havana into Moscow’s embrace.
Nicaragua, ruled by the former left-wing Sandinista rebel Daniel Ortega, remains a junior partner to Cuba and Venezuela in advancing Marxism in the southern hemisphere. Its position on Crimea is all about getting in Russia’s good books.
North Korea, a country that does its best to surpass the fiction produced in George Orwell’s novel 1984, was once kept afloat by Moscow until the Soviet Union collapsed. While China is now North Korea’s biggest economic and political partner, it still has a soft spot for Russia. My guess is that Pyongyang intends to annex South Korea one day and sees this as a great opportunity to be exploited.
Sudan, led by the only head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court for the crime of genocide, is a country with one of the worst human rights records on the planet. No country should brag about having Khartoum support their position, given the crimes against humanity the Sudanese regime is responsible for.
Syria, protected by Russia’s veto in the UN Security Council three times now since the Syrian civil war began, had no other choice. Putin has been loyal to Assad and so Assad must return the favour.
Venezuela is a country undergoing economic decline and massive streets protests just as we saw in Ukraine. It has remained a loyal ally to Russia as both countries seek to counter US influence across the globe.
Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of Africa, has suffered much under the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe. Over six million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa because of economic mismanagement, political repression and food shortages. No need to say more.
While Russia has the military might it does not have the moral backing to justify the unilateral invasion of its neighbour under false humanitarian arguments. As Putin redraws Russia’s borders and seeks to position the country as a global power, the world is not fooled by what is taking place. Although Putin has the political support of some of the world’s worst human rights abusing regimes, he has been given a swift diplomatic kick in the teeth by the community of nations.