US join EU in condemning ‘sham’ Donbas elections

Local residents walk past a banner reading 'With Russia in a heart!' and a monument to the Soviet Union's founder Vladimir Lenin in the pro-Russian rebels controlled city of Luhansk, Ukraine, 9 November 2018. [Alexander Ermochenko/EPA/EFE]

The United States on Monday (12 November) dismissed leadership elections in separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine as a “sham” one day after voters cast their ballots.

“The United States joins our European Allies and partners in condemning the 11 November sham ‘elections’ in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate processes were an attempt by Moscow to institutionalize its Donbas proxies, the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.'”

The statement came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel branded the vote “illegal and illegitimate” in a joint statement after meeting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on the sidelines of World War I commemorations.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini had stated that these elections were illegal and illegitimate, the day before they were held.

The White House has been vocal in its rejection of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and says sanctions will remain in place until the move is reversed.

“These entities have no place within the Minsk agreements or within Ukraine’s constitutional government, and they should be dismantled along with the illegal armed formations,” Nauert added.

“If Russia calculated the 11 November illegal ‘elections’ would lead to international respect for its proxies, the international reaction proves it was mistaken.”

She said the US and European Union had spoken “with one voice” against Sunday’s “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In early 2014, with areas of Ukraine falling into chaos in the wake of a Kyiv street revolt that ousted a pro-Russian president, Russian troops — in unmarked uniforms — seized Crimea.

A referendum was called in the territory, which has a large Russian-speaking population, and on 18 March 2014 Russia formally annexed it to the Russian federation.

Ukraine, which is also facing a pro-Russian rebellion on its mainland in the Donbas region, furiously opposed this breach of its sovereignty — with stern Western backing.

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