President Biden is condemning the “sham” referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine that would unite those regions with Russia, saying the U.S. will never recognize those territories as anything but part of Ukraine.
“Russia’s referenda are a sham — a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations charter,” Mr. Biden said Friday, adding that the U.S. and its allies could impose further sanctions for the move.
“The United States stands with our partners around the world — and with every nation that respects the core tenets of the U.N. charter — in rejecting whatever fabricated outcomes Russia will announce,” the president said.
Mr. Biden’s statement comes after four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine began voting in referendums on joining Russia, a move that significantly elevates the stakes of Moscow’s invasion.
The referendums, which are illegal under international law, could pave the way for Russia to annex those areas. That would allow Moscow to depict Ukraine’s counteroffensive attack as an invasion of Russian territory, giving it a wider latitude to justify escalating the war.
The votes, which are said to take place over five days, were implemented by pro-Russian officials in the regions of Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Questions on the ballot vary depending on the regions, which combine for 18% of Ukraine’s territory.
Mr. Biden isn’t the only world leader to condemn the referendums. The European Union has also said it won’t recognize the results and also threatened more sanctions against Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support for the referendums in an address on Wednesday. He vowed that Moscow will do “everything” to ensure “safe conditions for people to express their will.”