The US will “never recognize” the referendums in the Donbass republics and two Russian-controlled regions in Ukraine, President Joe Biden said on Friday, pledging that Washington and its allies will seek to impose “severe economic costs” on Moscow over the votes.
Biden denounced the referendums on joining Russia, which kicked off on Friday, as “a sham.”
They are “a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter,” his statement read.
The US leader pledged to “work with our allies and partners to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia,” without providing further details.
He went on to say that Washington would “continue to support the Ukrainian people and provide them with security assistance” to fight off Russian troops.
On Friday, the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the Russian-controlled Kherson Region and part of Zaporozhye Region, began their referendums on joining Russia, which will be completed on September 27.
Senior officials have signaled that Russia will support the Donbass republics if they vote to join the country.
Moscow warned that if the two republics and regions vote to join Russia, it would consider assaults on these areas to be attacks on its own territory, and respond accordingly.
A number of Western leaders have condemned the referendums. The G7 dismissed the votes as “illegitimate” and undemocratic, and vowed to “never recognize” the results. The group, which includes the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, also said it would continue to provide “financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support” to the government in Kiev.