Zelenskyy vows not to talk with Putin if Ukrainian land annexed following 'sham' referendums

Valentina Bondarenko reacts as she stands with her husband Leonid outside their house that was heavily damaged after a Russian attack in Sloviansk. Credit: AP

Ukraine's president is warning that attempts to annex Ukrainian territory through "sham referendums" will rule out talks with Moscow as long as Putin remains in power.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also called for Russia's "complete isolation" on the global stage and a new round of economic sanctions.

Addressing the UN Security Council via video link, President Zelenskyy urged those in attendance to send additional military and financial support in the defence of Ukraine.

He stated extra provisions are needed "so the aggressor would lose," and "clear and legally binding guarantees of collective security" were made available for his country in response to Moscow's latest grab at Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine had called the emergency council meeting over the referendums.

Referendums have taken place in Russian-controlled regions such as Luhansk and Kherson, as well as occupied areas of Donestsk and Zaporizhzhia.

Each of which have been denounced by Kyiv and its Western allies as rigged - and are widely perceived as a Russian attempt to annex territories, just as it did Crimea in 2014.

Moscow-aligned officials announced that all of the four occupied regions of Ukraine have since voted to join Russia. A move that serves as a likely pretext to annexation and the potential for a more dangerous phase in the seven-month war in Ukraine.

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According to Russian-installed election officials, 93% of the ballots cast in the Zaporizhzhia region supported annexation, as did 87% in the Kherson region, 98% in the Luhansk region and 99% in Donetsk.

“Any annexation in the modern world is a crime, a crime against all states that consider the inviolability of border to be vital for themselves,” Zelenskyy said.

He accused Russia of destroying “the main body of international law,” and responding to “any proposals for talks with a new brutality on the battlefield, with even greater crisis and threats to Ukraine and the world.”

“Russia’s recognition of these sham referenda as normal, the implementation of the so-called Crimean scenario and another attempt to annex Ukrainian territory, will mean that there is nothing to talk about with this president of Russia,” Zelenskyy said.

“Annexation is the kind of move that puts him alone against the whole of humanity.”

Many UN Security Council members denounced the referendums and stressed that any annexation of territory would never be recognised.

'Illegal and illegitimate' referendums involved soldiers collecting votes door-to-door

Marita tells ITV News how there was 'death everywhere' when Russian troops arrived. Credit: ITV News

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said voting on the referendums took place in polling centres and “de facto authorities accompanied by soldiers also went door-to-door with ballot boxes."

“They cannot be called a genuine expression of the popular will," she told the council.

“Unilateral actions aimed to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force by one state of another state's territory, while claiming to represent the will of the people, cannot be regarded as legal under international law."

A woman votes in a referendum at a polling station in Donetsk, which is controlled by Russia-backed separatists. Credit: AP

Britain's deputy ambassador, James Kariuki, called the referendums “illegal and illegitimate" and a violation of the Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of the UN Charter.

US and Albanian officials announced they would call on the Security Council to condemn the referendums - calling on countries not to recognise their result and demand the removal of Russian troops.

A move that will likely be met with a Russian veto, who are one of the five permanent members on the council.

If a veto is mooted by Russia, US and Albanian officials will take the resolution before the entire 193-member UN General Assembly, where there is no ability to veto.

The assembly previously adopted two resolutions in March, with support from about 140 countries, demanding an immediate end to Russia’s military operation and withdrawal of its forces, and blaming Moscow for the humanitarian crisis that has now hit many countries especially in the developing world with food and energy shortages, higher prices and rising inflation.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, claimed that 100 independent international observers from 40 countries observed the referendums, “and they were particularly surprised by the enthusiasm of the people.”

He accused Ukrainian forces of using Western “military might” in stepping up artillery strikes and shelling towns where there was a referendum “to sow panic among citizens and to make vain attempts to undermine the vote.”

Nebenzia claimed the West’s aim in supporting Ukraine and coming up to Russia’s borders “is to weaken and bleed dry Russia as much as possible."

“Their dream is to break up Russia and subject it to its own will,” he said.

Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya listens as Volodymyr Zelenskyy address the United Nations Security Council. Credit: AP

Alluding to the possibility of more referendums and annexations, he called the situation in Ukraine “dire” and claimed Kyiv had been rejected not only by the people of Crimea and Donbass but the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“This process is going to continue if Kyiv does not recognise its mistake and its strategic errors and doesn’t start to be guided by the interests of its own people, and not blindly carry out the will of those people who are playing them,” Nebenzia said.

Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, responded: “I have no doubts in my mind that they will attempt to do it."

She reiterated Biden's unwavering support for Ukraine, saying “that's why it’s so important that we stand against this immediately - and that we will do.”

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