Russia vetoed the UN Security Council resolution that declared Sunday’s referendum in the autonomous republic of Crimea invalid.
The draft resolution, drawn up by the United States, urged nations not to recognize the results of the vote.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow will respect the choice of people in the region that has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new central government in Kiev.
China, a close ally of Russia, abstained from the vote.
“This initiative had no grounds: events in Ukraine pose no threat to the international peace and security, the issues that the Security Council deals with under the UN Charter,” Churkin said.
Authorities in Kiev and international leaders declaire the referendum illegitimate and threaten Moscow with sanctions over its apparent plan to annex the region.