US rejects Russia’s plans to hold referendums in parts of Ukraine

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White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States rejected plans to hold referendums in Ukraine and will never recognize any Russian claims to annex parts of Ukraine, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday.

Sullivan said Moscow may be making the move to recruit troops in those areas after suffering extensive losses on the battlefield.

Sullivan called the referendums an affront to principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said President Joe Biden, at his speech on Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly, will issue a “firm rebuke” to Russia for its war against Ukraine.

“If this does transpire, the United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to any purportedly annexed parts of Ukraine. We will never recognize this territory as anything other than a part of Ukraine. We reject Russia’s actions unequivocally,” Sullivan told reporters.

Sullivan cited public reports from the region as evidence that Russia may be wanting to draw military recruits. He said Russia is currently “scraping for personnel” to put into the fight against Ukraine.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Steve Holland and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)