NATO condemned on Thursday the “sham” referendums announced by Russian-backed authorities in Ukrainian regions, ruling out the recognition of their “illegal and illegitimate annexation.”
In a statement, NATO’s highest decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the plans on holding referenda to join the Russian Federation in four regions of Ukraine.
“Sham referenda” in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions of Ukraine “have no legitimacy and will be a blatant violation of the UN Charter,” it said. The regions will hold votes on joining Russia from Sept. 23-27.
NATO allies ruled out recognizing “illegal and illegitimate annexation” of Ukrainian territory and called on other countries to “reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest.”
It reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty and vowed “political and practical support” to Kyiv.
Urging Russia to end the conflict, which it started in February, NATO called the partial military mobilization “a further escalation in Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine” and rejected Moscow’s “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric.”
President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization in Russia, calling up 300,000 reservists for likely deployment to Ukraine. He also vowed to use “all means at its disposal” if Russia’s territorial integrity is in danger, which was widely interpreted as a nuclear threat.
NATO response came hours after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the mobilization was in response to the 30-member military alliance’s help to Ukraine.
Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow is at war not just with Ukraine but with the “collective West.”