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Western countries denounce Russia holding election in occupied Ukrainian territories

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 16, 2024 6:18 PM 2 min read
A man rides a bicycle under a Russian sham election campaign billboard showing Kremlin-installed proxies in eastern Ukraine running with Russia's ruling party, United Russia, in occupied Donetsk on Aug. 12, 2023. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
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Several countries, including the U.K., the U.S., and Canada, issued public statements denouncing Russia for holding an illegal vote in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Russia began three days of voting on March 15 in a pseudo-democratic presidential election that is expected to grant Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 1999, six more years in office.

Moscow is also organizing voting in occupied Crimea and parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts in violation of international law.

"Russia has no legitimate basis to hold elections on the sovereign Ukrainian territory of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea. These areas are a part of Ukraine," the U.K. Foreign Office said on X.

The U.S. State Department said that "Russia is continuing to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence through sham elections held in occupied Ukrainian territories."

"The U.S. does not and will never recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham elections," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

According to the Canadian Foreign Ministry, the sham election is "another direct attack on Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence that contravenes international law, including the United Nations Charter."

"The world is not duped. We will continue to stand with Ukraine until its victory," the Canadian ministry said on X.

Ukraine, 56 more countries, and the European Union condemned the vote following a U.N. Security Council meeting on March 15, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also denounced "the efforts of the Russian Federation to hold its presidential elections in areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation," according to his spokesperson.

Moscow held sham "regional elections" in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine in September last year in an attempt to consolidate its control over these regions.

Russia declared annexation of partially occupied Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk oblasts in September 2022, a step denounced by Ukraine and the international community as illegal and void.

The Crimean peninsula was illegally annexed in March 2014 following a sham referendum staged by Russia in the absence of any international observers and with armed Russian soldiers present at polling locations.

Whether afraid or indifferent, regular Russians enable autocracy
For global audiences watching Moscow’s tightly-choreographed “election-style event” this weekend, Russia appears to be a country transformed – a militarized society where dissent is simply no longer tolerated. But the truth is that in the two years since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion…

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