With Russia apparently poised to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine lashed out at the Kremlin on Tuesday, telling the United Nations Security Council that Moscow was staging “fake” referendums at gunpoint. as a prelude to the theft of part of their territory. country.
“This is an attempt to steal another state’s territory,” he said, speaking remotely by video and wearing his trademark olive green T-shirt. He called the referendums a reckless violation of international norms and called on the international community to impose sanctions on Russia. “This is an attempt to erase the norms of international law,” she said.
Mr. Zelensky also repeated his punishments of Russia for using what he has called “nuclear blackmail” to destabilize the world and highlighted reports that Russia is disproportionately targeting Crimean Tatars and other indigenous peoples in his draft.
Mr. Zelensky addressed the council as Russian-backed administrators in four Ukrainian regions staged the final day of voting that residents say was riddled with coercion and intimidation, including gunmen at polling stations and pro-Russian propaganda.
The referendums, widely seen as a cynical pretext for Russia to claim parts of Ukraine where it has established at least partial military control, have been condemned by countries around the world as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tries to reassert his authority over a chaotic war.
At the Security Council meeting, representatives from countries including the United States, Britain, Albania, Ireland, Mexico, Kenya and Brazil criticized the referendums as violations of international law. But attempts to hold Russia accountable in the Security Council have been mostly symbolic; Russia’s permanent seat on the Council gives it veto power, allowing allied nations and blocs to propose their own policies to punish Moscow.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, called on member states not to recognize the referendum results, calling Putin’s strategy part of a “hackneyed Kremlin playbook.”
“The United States will never recognize any territory that Russia tries to seize or allegedly annex as something that is not part of Ukraine,” he said.
Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, accused Ukraine of engaging in political theater during recent UN meetings and trying to stir up anti-Russian sentiment. Zelensky’s remote addresses, he said, are “public relations tricks.”