President Joe Biden said the United States will never recognize Russia’s referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine.
“The United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything but a part of Ukraine. Russia’s referendums are a sham — a false pretext to try to forcibly annex parts of Ukraine in blatant violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations,” Biden said in a statement.
The president said the US will continue to work with allies to “impose rapid and severe additional economic costs on Russia”.
“The United States stands with our partners around the world — and with all nations that abide by the core principles of the UN Charter — in rejecting any fabricated results that Russia announces,” the statement said.
Four Russian-occupied areas began voting on Friday in referendums on joining Russia, according to their separatist leaders, in a move that raises the risk of an invasion of Moscow.
The referendums, which are illegal under international law and dismissed as a hoax by the Western and Kiev governments, could pave the way for Russian annexation of the areas, allowing Moscow to frame the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself.
More than 18,000 people participate in referendum in Donetsk
Some 18,550 citizens of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk participated in a referendum organized by Russian-backed officials on the first day of voting, a separatist leader told Russian state media RIA Novosti.
The referendums, taking place in four parts of Ukraine under Russian control, were widely denounced by Western governments as a sham. The European Union said it would not recognize the results and indicated it was preparing a new package of sanctions against Russia.
“On Thursday, more than 550 DPR citizens voted on the territory of the DPR embassy and nearly 18,000 DPR citizens voted on the territory of the entire Russian Federation,” Olga Makeeva, head of the separatist DPR’s Moscow office, said Saturday, according to with the RIA.
State media said the so-called DPR Central Election Commission claimed turnout at the end of the first day of voting in the referendum was 23.64%.
Another Russian official claimed that the overall turnout on the first day of voting exceeded 15% in the four regions: the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, the RIA reported.
To put this in context: observers say it seems unlikely that such a rushed process, in areas where many voters live near the front lines of conflict, could be successful or fair.
Furthermore, due to widespread internal displacement since the beginning of the conflict, voting databases are likely to be outdated.
Source: CNN Brasil