A series of illegal referenda took place in Eastern Ukraine over the weekend. They were conducted by armed separatist groups and were an attempt to create further division and disorder.
A series of illegal referenda took place in Eastern Ukraine over the weekend. They were conducted by armed separatist groups and were an attempt to create further division and disorder. These referenda are a clear violation of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The United States does not recognize the results of these referenda.
Moreover, the U.S. is disappointed that the Russian government did nothing to forestall these referenda since President Vladimir Putin's suggestion on May 7 that they be postponed. Indeed, on the day of the vote, Russian-backed social media and news stations encouraged residents of eastern Ukraine to vote, one even offered instructions for polling stations in Moscow. Russian state media also strongly backed the referenda with no mention of Putin's call for postponement.
In addition, President Putin falsely claimed that Russian forces were pulling back from the Ukrainian border. To date, there is no movement of the Russian military away from the border.
The focus of the international community is now on supporting the Ukrainian government's efforts to hold a presidential election on May 25. International observers note that preparations for these elections are proceeding apace and in accordance with international standards, which will allow all Ukrainian people a voice in the future of their country.
According to a recent independent poll, a substantial majority of Ukrainians intend to vote on May 25. Any efforts to disrupt this democratic process will be seen as attempts to deny the rights of Ukraine's citizens to express their political will freely.
As President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on May 2nd, the Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this month's presidential election, additional sanctions will be imposed on Russia.
The United States urges the Russian government to implement its Geneva commitments to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine while there is still time.