EU denounces ‘sham results’ of referendums in Russia-occupied Ukraine

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday denounced the “falsified outcomes of illegal’’ referendums Russia had held in occupied territories in Ukraine.

“This is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systematic abuses of human rights, the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, wrote on Twitter.

Moscow has been holding referendums that are illegal under international law in four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya to justify annexing them to the Russian Federation.

Borrell echoed a statement issued by European Council President, Charles Michel, late on Tuesday evening.

“Sham referenda. Sham results. We recognise neither,’’ he said on Twitter.

Michel was responding after Russian officials claimed voters in the four occupied Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly approved accession to the Russian Federation.

With all votes counted, Donetsk and Luhansk saw 99 per cent and 98 per cent of voters respectively cast ballots in favour.

In Kherson, 87 per cent approved annexation and in Zaporizhzhya; 93 per cent voted yes, occupying administrations in the regions said.

Kiev and countries around the world repeatedly denounced the five-day vote in areas under martial law.

It said that residents were coerced into voting out of fear for their safety and that the results were a foregone conclusion.

As a next step, the Moscow-appointed occupation administrations were expected to formally apply to President Vladimir Putin to be incorporated into Russian territory.

Putin had previously stressed that the territories would be completely under the protection of Russia, including its nuclear arsenal, if the referendum results showed a majority for annexation.