September 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

By Matt Meyer and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 5:56 p.m. ET, September 24, 2022
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12:21 a.m. ET, September 24, 2022

Western countries slam the Russian-backed "sham" referendums in Ukraine

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London and Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Residents cast their ballots in controversial referendum in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on September 23.
Residents cast their ballots in controversial referendum in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on September 23. (Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine began voting in referendums on joining Russia Friday, according to their separatist leaders. The referendums are illegal under international law and dismissed as "a sham" by Western governments and Kyiv.

Here's what governments around the world are saying:

United Kingdom:

The outcome of “sham” secession referendums in four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions is “almost certainly already decided,” the UK ambassador to Ukraine said on Friday.

“There will be results publicised of something that didn’t happen. I wonder whether anyone will even be called to vote. They won’t need to. The outcome is almost certainly already decided,” Melinda Simmons said on Twitter


''Switzerland condemns sham referendums in parts of Ukraine'' the Swiss Federal Council said in a statement on Friday, adding that ''the referendums currently taking place in Ukrainian territories partially occupied by Russia do not conform with the law and are illegal under international law.''

Condemning the violation, the Federal Council also said it "will not recognize the results of any of these sham referendums."

The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis clearly stated this position to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York on Wednesday when representatives from countries around the world met for the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, the statement added.

NATO (A US-led alliance)

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the plan to hold so-called 'referenda' on joining the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian regions partly controlled by the Russian military,” the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principle decision-making body said in a statement.  

"Allies do not and will never recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. Sham referenda in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions of Ukraine have no legitimacy and will be a blatant violation of the UN Charter. NATO Allies will not recognize their illegal and illegitimate annexation,” the council added.