Estonian PM: We will never recognize 'fake referenda' in Ukraine

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Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Ardi Hallismaa

Estonia will never recognize "fake referenda in occupied territories of Ukraine", Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and several top politicians said on Tuesday, as Russia moved to legitimize seized territory.

Kallas called plans to hold referendums in Russian-occupied territory in southern and eastern Ukraine later this month "the occupiers' playbook in action".

She said Estonia will "never recognize" these elections, adding Ukraine has "every right to take back its territory".

"Donbas, Crimea, Kherson = it's all Ukraine," she wrote on social media on Tuesday evening.

"Russia keeps using blackmail and illegally tries to take what doesn't belong to it. Actions like this will have the opposite effect and rally our support to Ukraine. More military aid, more sanctions against the aggressor, holding Russia accountable for its crimes," she added.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) also called the referendums "fake".

"The EU must recognize the Donetsk & Luhansk "republics" as terrorist organizations," he wrote, calling for more sanctions.

President Alar Karis pinned the motive on President Vladimir Putin's "desperation" and called the events "nonsense".

"It is Putin's desperation that makes him orchestrate sham referendums. If this nonsense would be a movie scenario it would seem unbelievable, but it is actually happening!" he wrote on social media.

"This may offer cover for attempts to gear up military action domestically, but it will never change the fact that those areas are forever Ukraine & Ukraine will take back its whole territory."

Chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihekelson (Reform) called for more weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

"We will never recognize sham referendums of Russian occupiers. Ukraine needs much firepower to liberate its territories. We will win!" he wrote.

He also highlighted the similarities between Estonia's own annexation in 1940.

"In 1940, illegitimate Russian referendums in the Baltic states forced us into terror and occupation. The fact that many countries never recognized illegal annexation helped us to become free nations again. Ukraine is in a better position. They will free their lands by kicking Russia out," he wrote.

Almost seven months after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, four areas under Moscow's control announced plans for urgent so-called referendums on joining Russia, the BBC wrote on Tuesday.

These four areas are Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. Russian-backed officials say they want votes on joining Russia starting this week.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, after a vote widely condemned as a sham.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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