Estonian FM: Russia's annexation 'referendums' 'completely null and void'

The results of "so-called referendums" held by Russia in four occupied regions of Ukraine were "unequivocally" condemned and declared "null and void" by Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) on Friday.

"Referendums" were held in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia earlier this week, the results of which show residents want to join Russia, Russian officials said.

Estonia, EU and U.S. politicians have said they will never recognize these results.

"Russia's decision to illegally annex these territories, as was done with the Crimean peninsula," Reinsalu said in a statement on Friday.

"It is a gross violation of international law and Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. These so-called referenda have nothing to do with the expression of the will of the people and are completely null and void."

The minister stressed that Ukraine has the right to defend its territory within its internationally recognized borders.

He said defense assistance for Ukraine must be increased immediately and new sanctions implemented. Additionally, an international tribunal needs to be established so "war of aggression will not go unpunished under any circumstances".

"Ukraine has our unwavering support," Reinsalu said.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an accord to annex the occupied regions, after declaring that Russia would never give them up and would defend them with all means available, the BBC reported.

Russia does not fully control the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Thirteen countries condemn "sham referendums"

Chairs of 13 Foreign Affairs Committees released a joint statement on Friday condemning the "sham referendums" organized by Russia.

They strongly condemned the acts, "any possible fabricated results" and called on other countries to not to recognize their results.

"We emphasize that the sham referendums organized and imposed by the Russian occupation regime in four regions of Ukraine are a clear violation of international law, including the UN charter, and can only be considered as a false pretext to attempt to annex parts of Ukraine and justify their illegal war – a process reflecting Russia's approach in Crimea in 2014, combining military presence, violence, forced deportations, disinformation, intimidation, distribution of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens and fake and illegitimate results," the statement reads.

They called on the international community to hold those involved to account.

The statement was signed by representatives from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Netherlands, France, Romania, Slovakia, Germany, Finland, and Denmark.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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