US rejects Russian plans to hold referendums in parts of Ukraine

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

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

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

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“If this happens, the United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to supposedly annexed parts of Ukraine. We will never recognize this area as anything but part of Ukraine. We unequivocally reject Russia’s actions,” Sullivan told reporters .

Sullivan cited public reports from the region as evidence that Russia may want to recruit military recruits. He said Russia is currently “looking for personnel” to be deployed in the fight against Ukraine.

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