G7 leaders said on Friday that they will continue to support Ukraine against Russia “for as long as it takes.”
After gathering in Germany, G7 leaders released a statement, condemning the planned referendums by Russia in Ukraine.
“We, the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), strongly condemn the sham referenda that Russia attempts to use to create a phony pretext for changing the status of Ukrainian sovereign territory, which is subject to an ongoing Russian aggression,” said the statement.
“These actions clearly breach the United Nations Charter and international law and go diametrically against the rule of law among nations,” it underscored.
“These sham referenda initiated today by Russia and its proxies have no legal effect or legitimacy, as demonstrated by Russia’s hasty methods of organisation, which in no way respect democratic norms, and its blatant intimidation of local populations.
“These referenda in areas that have been forcibly put under Russia’s temporary control in no way represent a legitimate expression of the will of the Ukrainian people, who have consistently resisted Russian efforts to change borders by force,” the leaders said.
“We will never recognise these referenda which appear to be a step toward Russian annexation and we will never recognise a purported annexation if it occurs,” they underlined.
“In addition, we deplore deliberate Russian escalatory steps, including the partial mobilisation of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, G7 leaders stated.
Urging the world “to unequivocally reject these sham referenda as Russia’s attempt to give false cover to its violations of international law,” the leaders stressed: “We stand ready to impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities – inside and outside of Russia –providing political or economic support for Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.”
“We are steadfast in our commitment to providing the support Ukraine needs to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to defend itself, and to choose its own future,” they noted.
The leaders also reiterated that they will continue to support the war-zone country about “financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal” matters, while also adding that they “will move ahead on reconstruction efforts, including through the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine in Berlin on 25 October.”
“We will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Separatist-controlled Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which are partly under Russian control, announced plans for the referendums earlier this week.
The decision has been widely condemned by the international community, with European states and the US terming them "sham" referendums and saying they will not be recognized.
Voting will run from Friday to Tuesday in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia.
Polls will be open from 8 am (0500GMT) to 4 pm (1300GMT) in Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, while the closing time will be 8 pm (1700GMT) in Donetsk.
For security reasons, in-person voting will only take place on the last day, Sept. 27, while the other days will see ballots being organized in communities and conducted door-to-door, according to local media reports.