Any referendum Russia intends to hold in the Ukrainian territories its forces have captured would be null and void from the legal perspective and not recognized by the European Union and its member states.
That’s according to the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, who issued the statement on the EU External Action website, Ukrinform reports.
“The European Union strongly condemns these planned illegal ‘referendum’ 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,” the statement reads.
Borrell recalled that on September 20, the so-called “authorities”, appointed illegitimately by Russia in the territories of Ukraine it militarily occupies, announced preparations for illegal “referendum”. This is Russia’s attempt to legitimize its illegal military control, aiming to forcibly change Ukraine’s borders in clear violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, the EU High Representative stressed.
He noted that 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, Borrell recalls, adding that 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, EU’s top diplomat emphasized.
“Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in these “referendum” and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable, and additional restrictive measures against Russia would be considered,” the High Representative said.
The official also noted that the EU nations 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,” the statement concludes.
As reported earlier, in the wake of Ukraine's counteroffensive in Ukraine's east, "LPR/DPR" leaders and collaborators in the Russian-captured territories of Kherson and Zaporizhia regions said they would hold "referendum," scheduling them for September 23-27.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said that any such illegitimate "referendum" will be null and void, and called on international partners to strongly condemn Russia's intention to hold an illegal vote, introduce new sanctions, and recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Leaders of Western powers have already declared that they will not recognize the outcomes of sham referenda.
On September 21, in a video address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared partial mobilization in Russia, adding that his country would recognize the outcomes of “referendum.”