Ukraine's president warned on Tuesday that Russia's recently concluded "sham referendums" and attempts to annex Ukrainian territory preclude any talks with Moscow as long as Vladimir Putin is in office. He also demanded Russia's "complete isolation" and the imposition of harsh new international sanctions.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the U.N. Security Council via video link despite Russian objections, pleaded for additional military and financial support to defend Ukraine "so the aggressor would lose" and "clear and legally binding guarantees of collective security" for his country in response to Russia's most recent land grab in Ukraine.
The referendums, which Kyiv and its Western allies decried as rigged, were held in the Russian-controlled regions of Luhansk and Kherson, as well as in seized territories of Donetsk and Zaporizhia. They are largely considered as a pretext for Russia to proclaim the annexation of the regions, as it did in 2014 with Crimea.
Pro-Moscow officials announced late Tuesday that residents in all four occupied regions of Ukraine voted to join Russia, a likely precursor to imminent annexations that would usher in a new and potentially more dangerous phase in the seven-month war following Russia's invasion of its smaller neighbor on February 24.
Ukraine convened the emergency meeting of the Security Council in response to the referendums and the anticipated Russian annexation declarations.
Zelenskyy stated, "Any annexation in the modern world is a crime, a crime against all states that consider the inviolability of their borders vital to their survival."
He accused Russia of dismantling "the main body of international law" and of responding to any suggestions for dialogue with "new brutality on the battlefield, with even greater crisis and threats to Ukraine and the world."
"Russia's acceptance of these sham referendums as legitimate, the implementation of the so-called Crimean scenario, and another attempt to annex Ukrainian territory will mean there is nothing to discuss with this Russian president," Zelenskyy stated. "Annexation is the type of action that isolates him against the entirety of humanity."
Numerous members of the Security Council condemned the referendums and emphasized that no annexation of land would ever be accepted.
Rosemary DiCarlo, the political chief of the United Nations, stated that the referendums were voted on in polling places and that "de facto authorities accompanied by soldiers went door-to-door with ballot boxes."
She informed the council, "They cannot be considered a genuine expression of the will of the people." "Unilateral actions intended to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force of another state's territory by one state, while purporting to represent the will of the people, cannot be considered legal under international law."
James Kariuki, Britain's deputy ambassador, described the referendums as "illegal and illegitimate" and a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Ambassador Ferit Hoxha of Albania stated that the referendums are a repetition of the script Russia employed in Crimea, are against the Ukrainian constitution, and "have nothing to do with democracy or the free will of Ukrainians."
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced that the United States and Albania will soon circulate a Security Council resolution that will condemn "the sham referenda," urge all nations not to recognize any altered status for Ukraine, and demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the country.
The motion would undoubtedly face a Russian veto, but "we hope that the rest of the council will refuse to accept the redrawing," she stated.
The U.S. envoy anticipates a vote on the resolution by the Security Council later this week or early next week.
Thomas-Greenfield stated that if Russia uses its veto, the United States and Albania will take the resolution to the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, where vetoes are not permitted, "to send a clear message to Moscow."
In March, the assembly adopted two resolutions with the support of approximately 140 countries, demanding an immediate end to Russia's military operation and withdrawal of its forces, and blaming Moscow for the humanitarian crisis that has now struck many countries, particularly in the developing world, due to food and energy shortages, higher prices, and inflation.
Thomas-Greenfield cited U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's remarks to the annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly last week to explain why the U.S. was moving forward with the resolution: "if nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything that this institution stands for."
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's U.N. ambassador, stated that 100 impartial international observers from 40 nations observed the referendums and "were especially surprised by the enthusiasm of the people."
He accused Ukrainian forces of utilizing Western "military might" to increase artillery strikes and shell areas where there was a referendum to "sow panic among citizens and make futile efforts to undermine the vote."
Nebenzia asserted that the West's goal in supporting Ukraine and approaching Russia's borders is to "weaken and bleed dry" Russia.
"Their ambition is to dismantle and subjugate Russia," he stated.
Referring to the likelihood of other referendums and annexations, he described the situation in Ukraine as "dire" and said that Kyiv had been rejected by the residents of Crimea, Donbas, Kherson, and Zhaporizhsk.
Nebenzia stated, "This process will continue if Kyiv does not recognize its mistake and strategic errors and if it does not begin to be guided by the interests of its own people, rather than blindly carrying out the will of those who are playing them."
The U.S. ambassador, Thomas-Greenfield, answered, "I have no doubt that they will attempt to do so."
She reaffirmed Biden's steadfast support for Ukraine, stating, "That's why it's so vital that we take immediate action — and we will"