French President Emmanuel Macron has described the upcoming Donbass votes on whether to join Russia as “another provocation” of Moscow’s and said that this “parody” on democracy might be funny if it weren’t tragic.
The French leader was speaking to journalists on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, soon after the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, announced that they would hold a vote on joining Russia on September 23-27.
In Macron’s opinion, holding referendums in a region “that has been bombed, where people have had to flee” is a “signature of cynicism.”
“If it weren't tragic, we could laugh about it,” Macron said.
As the upcoming plebiscites, in the president’s opinion, are nothing more than “an imitation of democratic form or democratic legitimacy,” they would not have any legal power, Macron said. Accordingly, he said, they would not be recognized by the international community.
The president stressed that his country’s position remains unchanged: Russian forces must leave Ukrainian territory and Moscow “should respect internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.”
Macron also used his General Assembly speech to stress that negotiations with Moscow and Kiev could only succeed if “the sovereignty of Ukraine is respected.”
In condemning the idea of referendums, Macron has joined many other Western politicians who accuse Russia of violating the principles of international law.
Meanwhile, the former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as a deputy head of the Security Council, claimed that the votes on joining Russia are important “not only for the systemic protection of the residents” of the Donbass republics and of “other liberated territories,” but also “for the restoration of historical justice.”
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has previously vowed to win back all the areas which are now under “Russian occupation,” including the Donbass republics and Crimea.