EU threatens Russia with new sanctions if referenda conducted
The EU foreign policy chief says all those involved in referenda to join Russia and other "violations of international law" in Ukraine will be held accountable.
The European Union threatens Russia with new sanctions in the event of referenda in the LPR, DPR, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Tuesday in a statement.
"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," the statement read.
This comes after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US condemned the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson referenda to join Russia as "sham" actions and asserted that the US would not recognize the results.
"These referenda are an affront to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity that underpin the international system," said Sullivan, adding that "if this does transpire, the United States will never recognize Russia's claims to any purportedly annexed parts of Ukraine."
The referenda, according to Sullivan, and a reported Russian plan to mobilize more soldiers, reflect Moscow's recent military defeats, including ceding sizable amounts of land to the Ukrainian military.
"These are not the actions of a confident country. These are not acts of strength, quite the opposite," the US official claimed.
Nato chief comments
Similarly, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg considered that the next referenda on joining Russia will be viewed as "illegitimate" and the international community should denounce them.
"Sham referendums have no legitimacy & do not change the nature of #Russia’s war of aggression against #Ukraine. This is a further escalation in Putin’s war. The international community must condemn this blatant violation of international law & step up support for Ukraine," Stoltenberg tweeted.
Sham referendums have no legitimacy & do not change the nature of #Russia’s war of aggression against #Ukraine. This is a further escalation in Putin’s war. The international community must condemn this blatant violation of international law & step up support for Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/NdcN3tO6Sy— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) September 20, 2022
Earlier, Denis Miroshnichenko, the chairman of the People’s Council of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) confirmed that the council will hold the referendum on joining Russia from September 23 to 27.
"The referendum on the entry of the Lugansk People's Republic into the Russian Federation as a constituent entity of the Russian Federation will be held from September 23 to 27, Denis Miroshnichenko, chairman of the People's Council of the LPR, said," the LPR government wrote on its Telegram channel.
This week, the Public Chamber of the LPR came out with an initiative to hold a referendum on the accession of the republic to Russia immediately.
The LPR Public Chamber considered in a statement that the republic’s accession to Russia will ensure its security and open up new possibilities for the post-war revival.
"We think it is high time to pass a strong-willed decision to hold a referendum in the Lugansk People's Republic immediately," the statement added, noting that the people of the LPR would widely support the accession to Russia and consider it a "triumph of historic justice."
"Moreover, it will ensure the security of the republic’s territory, open up new possibilities on a path of the revival and restoration of the strength of our land, its return to a peaceful life."
Kherson Region to hold referendum on joining Russia on September 23-27
Simultaneously, the Kherson region will hold a referendum on joining Russia on September 23-27, the regional head, Vladimir Saldo, announced on Tuesday.
"I announce that in accordance with the decree, a referendum will be held on September 23-27, 2022. The decree determines the vote procedure and organization of referendum on the territory of the Kherson region and also establishes administrative and criminal liability for violation of these rules," Saldo wrote on Telegram.
He also called for assistance from Russia and other countries in holding the referendum.
Earlier, the civic chamber of the Kherson region asked Saldo to promptly hold a referendum on joining Russia, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
It is worth noting that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military took control of the Azov part of Zaporozhye and Kherson, liberating large cities, such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk, as well as cutting off Kiev from the Sea of Azov.
Kherson and Zaparozhye had new administrations formed in them, with Russian TV channels and radio stations broadcasting there and trade and transport ties with Crimea being restored. Both regions have announced plans to become part of Russia.
In July, Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Kherson region’s military-civilian administration, underlined in a video published on his Telegram channel that "the Kherson Region will forget about neo-Nazism already in the near future. We are getting ready for the referendum, we will hold it."
"I hope that in the near future already we will become a full-fledged territorial entity of the Russian Federation," he added.
Similarly, Berdiansk mayor Alexander Saulenko had told reporters that a referendum regarding the status of Zaporozhye and Berdiansk, both of which have been liberated by the Russian armed forces, is set to be held in September. However, the exact date will be disclosed at a later time.