Russia threatened several Eastern European and Central Asian states with retaliation if they voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution this week declaring invalid Crimea's referendum on seceding from Ukraine, UN diplomats said.
The disclosures about Russian threats came after Moscow accused Western countries of using "shameless pressure, up to the point of political blackmail and economic threats," in an attempt to coerce the United Nations' 193 member states to join it in supporting the non-binding resolution on the Ukraine crisis.
According to interviews with UN diplomats, most of whom preferred to speak on condition of anonymity for fear of angering Moscow, the targets of Russian threats included Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as a number of African countries.
A spokesman for Russia's Mission to the UN denied that Moscow threatened any country with retaliation if it supported the resolution, saying: "We never threaten anyone. We just explain the situation."
According to the diplomats, the Russian threats were not specific. But they said it was clear to the recipients of the warnings not to support the resolution that retaliatory measures could include steps such as expelling migrant workers from Russia, halting natural gas supplies or banning certain imports to Russia to cause economic harm.