The United Nations Security Council has scheduled a vote for Friday afternoon on a resolution that would condemn Russia for its “illegal so-called referenda” in four Ukrainian regions and declare that they “have no validity”.

The US- and Albanian-sponsored resolution would call on all countries not to recognise any alterations to the status of Ukraine's Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

It would reaffirm the UN commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognised borders.

The Kremlin announced plans to move on annexing Russian-controlled areas of the four regions on Friday, and Russia is certain to veto the resolution.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said earlier this week that if that happens, the US and Albania will put the resolution to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.

The draft resolution would order Russia to “desist and refrain from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

It would also demand the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine.

A former ally

Montenegro ordered six Russian diplomats to leave the country, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

In a short statement published on Twitter, the ministry said the diplomats were asked to leave over “breaches of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”. It did not elaborate.

Montenegro was once considered a strong Russian ally, but in 2017, it joined NATO over strong opposition from Moscow. It also joined Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has put Montenegro and most other European nations on its list of “enemy states” for acting against Kremlin's interests.

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