Yesterday, so-called “authorities”, appointed illegitimately by Russia in the territories of Ukraine it militarily occupies, announced preparations for illegal “referenda”.
This is Russia’s attempt to legitimise its illegal military control and aims to forcibly change Ukraine’s borders in clear violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The European Union strongly condemns these planned illegal “referenda” which go against the legal and democratically elected Ukrainian authorities, are in violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in blatant breach of international law. The results of such actions will be null and void and would not be recognised by the EU and its Member States.
Since the start of the invasion Russia has intimidated, illegally detained, tortured and abducted Ukrainian citizens and a significant part of the original population in the invaded areas has been forced to flee. Legally elected local officials have, in some cases, been forcibly replaced. Access to the internet, free and independent media and freedom of expression have also been greatly restricted.
Therefore, these illegal “votes” cannot be considered under any circumstance as the free expression of the will of the people living in these regions under constant Russian military threat and intimidation.
Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in these “referenda” and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable, and additional restrictive measures against Russia would be considered.
We are impressed by the determination and courage of the Ukrainian residents of areas currently under Russian military control, continuing to peacefully oppose the illegal Russian presence.
The European Union remains unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urges the Russian Federation to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.