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The UN reaffirmed its commitment to Ukraine's "territorial integrity" on Tuesday, as pro-Moscow authorities in several parts of the war-torn nation began claiming victory in annexation votes condemned internationally as a sham.
"The United Nations remains fully committed to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders," Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told a meeting of the UN Security Council.
Addressing the meeting by video link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once more denounced the ballots hastily organized in Russian-occupied regions -- Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.
"There's a very cynical attempt to force the male population in occupied territory of Ukraine to mobilize into the Russian army, in order to send them to fight against their own homelands," he charged.
Taking aim at Russian leader Vladmir Putin, Zelensky warned that "annexation is the kind of move that puts him alone against the whole of humanity."
"A clear signal is now needed from every country in the world," he said, telling the Council, "I believe in your ability to act."
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In spite of Zelensky's appeals, there is no chance of the Security Council -- where Russia holds a veto -- reaching a united stance on the annexation move.
Nevertheless, the United States intends to submit a resolution condemning the "sham referenda," urging member states "not to recognize any altered status of Ukraine and obligating Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine," said the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
"Russia's sham referenda, if accepted, will open a Pandora's box that we cannot close," she warned.
"If Russia chooses to shield itself from accountability here in the Council, we will then look to the UN General Assembly to send an unmistakable message to Moscow," Thomas-Greenfield said.
The UN General Assembly -- which brings together the body's 193 member states and where none has a veto, has already adopted several resolutions condemning Russia's war in Ukraine.
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