The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Wednesday that criticizes Russia for annexing four Ukrainian regions last month and determines the referendums aimed at justifying the territorial expansion were "illegal."
The world body's assembly also urged Moscow to retract the declaration of the annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as part of the invasion of its neighboring country, which began in February.
The 193-member assembly approved the resolution with 143 votes in favor. Five members, including Russia and Belarus, opposed it, while China, India and 33 others abstained.
The assembly "condemns" the referendums and the subsequent annexation of the regions and the events "have no validity under international law and do not form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine," the resolution said.
The moves are "inconsistent with" the principles of the U.N. Charter, it said.
"One country cannot take the territory of another by force," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said at the session. "If you are a U.N. member state, your borders are your own and are protected by international law," she said.
Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya defended the annexation, saying at the session that the results of the referendums showed the populations of the regions "do not want to return to Ukraine" and the polls were held "in full accordance with the norms and principles of international law."