US leads 40 nations in protest at UN over 'unsubstantiated' rationale for Russia's actions

The United States and 40 other nations have complained to the United Nations that Russia is justifying its military action in Ukraine through "unsubstantiated" claims of human rights violations against ethnic Russians.

Paula Schriefer, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, says in a joint statement opposing Russia's annexation of Crimea that Russia has breached its obligations under the U.N. Charter to respect Ukraine's sovereignty.

She told the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council on Wednesday that 40 nations support U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay's call for "an immediate, comprehensive and independent investigation" into alleged abuses in Ukraine and Crimea.

The group also demanded that a U.N. human rights monitoring team be given access to all parts of Ukraine and Crimea and publicly release its findings.