The Government of the United States and the European Union condemned this September 28 the “false” and “shameful” referendums promoted by Russia to annex four regions in Ukraine. Washington announced that it will present a resolution to the UN not to recognize any of the awards. Meanwhile, Brussels has promised a “strong response” to Moscow for the leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which it denounces as “sabotage”.
Russia is preparing to formally annex regions of eastern and southern Ukraine fully or partially occupied by its troops, despite voices of protest.
After the end of the referendums that supposedly supported by a large majority the ‘Yes’ to the union to the Russian territory, the United States announced that it will present a resolution before the UN Security Council to ask the member countries not to recognize any altered status on the Ukrainian territory.
The document will also require Russia to withdraw its troops from its neighboring country, said the US ambassador to the body, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
As expected, the official figures provided by the pro-Russian authorities show strong support for the award.
According to the election officials installed by Russia, 98% of the votes cast in Donetskeastern Ukraine, supported the annexation and in neighboring Lugansk 99% did. Meanwhile, in Zaporizhiain the south of the invaded country, 93% of the votes supported the Kremlin and in Kherson 87%.
The next planned session of the Federation Council, Russia’s Upper House, is expected to take place on October 4, when Moscow’s legislative moves to claim the towns and cities it occupies in the four Ukrainian regions could be seen.
Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Russian State Duma, hailed the “results” and said they “will save millions of people from genocide,” words usually used by Vladimir Putin’s government to justify the invasion.
International condemnation of the Russian process to annex Ukrainian territories
The votes are widely rejected by kyiv and the West. Western states rule out the referendums they consider to be a meaningless claim organized by Moscow in an attempt to legitimize the invasion it ordered on February 24 against its former ally in the former Soviet Union.
The head of foreign policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, cataloged this Wednesday, September 28, the votes as “illegal” and described the results as “falsified”.
“This is another violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, (in the midst of) systematic human rights abuses,” said the top diplomatic representative of the 27-nation bloc.
For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the results of the consultations part of a “diabolical scheme” by Moscow.
“We and many other countries have made it clear that we will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory. And we have also made it clear that Ukraine has every right to defend its territory, including taking back territory that has been illegally seized by Russia. Blinken asserted.
NATO denounced the referendums as a “farce” and a “violation of international law.”
In kyiv, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry criticized the consultations as “null and void” and called them “a propaganda show”.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, stressed that his nation “will never accept any Russian ultimatum” and that it will defend its citizens in the regions controlled by the invading troops.
“We will act to protect our people, both in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhia region, in Donbass, in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, and in Crimea,” the president assured.
Zelensky called on the EU, NATO and the G7 to “immediately and significantly” increase pressure on Russia through new sanctions and significantly increase their military aid to Ukraine.
However, the Kremlin remains unmoved amid the onslaught of criticism. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the conflict ordered by his country will continue “at least” until the “liberation” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, the eastern province where Moscow’s troops currently control around 60% of the territory.
The EU promises a strong response for “sabotage” in Nord Stream gas pipelines
The European Union also expressed outrage over the alleged sabotage, which occurred on Tuesday, September 27, of two underwater natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, after seismologists reported explosions around the Baltic Sea lines.
The leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Europe appear to be “very serious” and “definitely look very suspicious”, they say from Brussels.
Borrell asserted that “all available information indicates that these leaks are the result of a deliberate act,” although the perpetrators have not been identified so far.
“Any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable and will receive a strong and united response,” the diplomat said in a statement on behalf of the 27 EU member states.
Against this background, the European Union warned of retaliation for any attack on Europe’s energy networks.
The Russian war in Ukraine has sparked an energy standoff between the EU, many of whose members have relied heavily on Russian natural gas supplies for years.
The consequences are set to last. The recent damage makes it unlikely that the pipelines will be able to supply gas to the Old Continent this winter.
The Kremlin responded that claims that its government was responsible for the gas pipeline explosions and leaks are “predictably stupid.”
Peskov said the damage has caused Russia huge economic losses to his country.
“This is a big problem for us because, first of all, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are full of gas: the whole system is ready to pump gas and gas is very expensive (…) Now the gas goes flying through the air “, said.
Meanwhile, hostilities continue on Ukrainian territory. The kyiv Army and a group of US think tanks said Russia is sending untrained troops to the front lines.
The exodus of Russian men to neighboring countries is increasing after Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization of reservists, for a war that leaves thousands dead on both sides and sees no end in sight.
With Reuters, AP and local media