Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the bloc, says “sham” ballots are invalid and urges further assistance for Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, condemned the declaration that the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) will vote on joining Russia later this week and requested additional support for Ukraine from the “international community” in response.
Stoltenberg referred to it as “a further escalation in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s conflict” on Twitter, saying that “sham referendums have no validity and do not change the essence of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
The international community needs to increase its support for Ukraine and denounce this clear breach of international law, according to Stoltenberg.
On Tuesday morning, the leaders of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) announced that a vote on joining Russia will take place between September 23 and 27. Voting will also begin on Friday in the nearby Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan backed Stoltenberg’s criticism of the referendums, calling them “an affront to concepts of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Sullivan continued, “We will never accept this region as anything other than a part of Ukraine.
After the US-backed coup against the elected president in February 2014, several parts of Ukraine refused to accept the legitimacy of the Kyiv government. In March of that year, Crimea held a referendum on rejoining Russia, which NATO has also refused to acknowledge, while Donetsk and Lugansk proclaimed their independence.
On February 24, Russia dispatched soldiers into Ukraine, blaming Kyiv for failing to carry out the Minsk agreements, which were meant to grant Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols were initially signed in 2014 and were mediated by Germany and France. Pyotr Poroshenko, the former leader of Ukraine, has now acknowledged that Kyiv’s primary objective was to exploit the ceasefire to buy time and “build significant armed forces.”
The KyivKyiv’sDonbasrecognizedKyiv republics were Kyiv’srecognizedKyiv as separate entities by the Kremlin in February 2022, and Ukraine was required to formally announce its neutrality and its refusal to ally with any Western military alliance. Kyiv maintains that there was no cause for the Russian offensive.
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