Biden Warns Of Dire Economic Costs If Russia Annexes Ukraine Regions

In News

Voting began Friday over whether Russia should annex four regions of Ukraine. This makes the stakes much higher than they were seven months ago when Moscow’s troops invaded. Russian operatives are still holding breakaway polls, which Kyiv and its allies term a “sham.”

In Summary

• US President Joe Biden warned Russia that there would be “swift and severe” costs if Moscow used “fake” referendums to annex more of Ukraine.

• The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, termed the polls “crimes against international law and Ukrainian law.”

• G7 nations posit they will “never” be recognized and have “no legal effect or legitimacy.” 

People attend a rally and a concert in support of annexation referendums in Russian-held regions of Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg on September 23, 2022. [Olga MALTSEVA AFP]


Russia-Held Regions Of Ukraine Vote In Annexation Referenda Rile Kyiv & Allies Terming Votes Illegal And Illegitimate

Friday, US President Joe Biden warned Russia that there would be “swift and severe” costs if Moscow used “sham” plebiscites to annex more of Ukraine.

Biden said in a statement that Russia’s referendums were:

  • A sham.
  • A baseless excuse to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force.
  • A clear violation of international law.

The president promised to work with US allies and partners to ensure that Russia’s economy suffers more swiftly and severely.”

Saturday was the second day of voting to join Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine regions that the Kremlin controls.

On the first day of voting, the UN and Ukrainian governments released what they said was more evidence of “war crimes” by Russia, such as executions and torture.

The Vote Prompts Reaction Even From Russia’s Closest Ally

Beijing, Moscow’s closest ally since the war started in February, even had something to say about the votes.

Friday at the UN General Assembly, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba “the sovereignty & territorial integrity of all countries must be respected.

Ukrainian forces said they were taking back land from separatists backed by Russia in the same areas that Russia wants to take over.

Voting is happening in the parts of Donetsk and Lugansk controlled by Russia in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.

Four days are being used to go door-to-door and collect votes. On Tuesday, residents will be able to vote at polling places for the last time.

You could also vote at the building in Moscow representing the Donetsk region that broke away from Ukraine.

The vote was announced this week after a Ukrainian counteroffensive took over most of the northeastern Kharkiv region. This put hundreds of settlements back under Kyiv’s control after months of Russian control.

If the four regions joined Russia, any military action there would be seen by Moscow as an attack on Russian territory would worsen the conflict.

The referendums are similar to those held after Russia took over Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.

IZIUM, UKRAINE – SEPTEMBER 23: Rescue workers and forensic police exhume bodies from unidentified makeshift graves at the Pishanske cemetery on September 23, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine. A total of 447 bodies was exhumed from the gravesite, and the bodies will be examined by forensic officials for possible war crimes. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have reclaimed villages east and south of Kharkiv, as Russian forces have withdrawn from areas they’ve occupied since early in the war. [Paula BronsteinGetty Images]

War Crimes

Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the polls were wrong.

He said the world will react in a just way to the contrived referendums, labeling them “crimes against international law and the law of Ukraine.”

Earlier Friday, the G7 nations said that the polls will “never” be recognized and have “no legal effect or legitimacy.”

In the meantime, UN investigators said Russia had committed “massive” war crimes in Ukraine, including bombings, executions, torture, and horrible sexual violence.

Erik Mose of the Commission of Inquiry, an investigation team set up by the Security Council in March, said they had seen evidence of “a massive number of executions” and the raping and torture of children.

Ukrainian officials said on Friday that they had finished digging up 447 bodies from a site near the city of Izyum, which Ukrainian forces had taken back from Russian forces.

“Most of them have signs of a violent death, and 30 of them have signs of torture,” said Oleg Synegubov, governor of the Kharkiv region.

“Some bodies have ropes around their necks, their hands are tied together, and they have broken limbs and gunshot wounds.”

The Kremlin has said that Ukraine is making up evidence of the supposed war crimes.

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