US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Thursday called Russia’s so-called referendums in occupied-parts of Ukraine “a futile effort to mask what amounts to a further attempt at a land grab.”
He reiterated that “the United States does not, and will never, recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham referenda or Russia’s purported annexation of Ukrainian territory.”
“This spectacle conducted by Russia’s proxies is illegitimate and violates international law,” Blinken said in the statement. “It is an affront to the principles of international peace and security.”
“The United States and our allies and partners will continue to assist Ukraine in its fight to defend its territory against Russian aggression,” Blinken added.
“We wholeheartedly support Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” he said.
On Tuesday, Blinken made clear that Ukraine would be able to use weapons provided by the United States to regain its territory, including in the regions that are expected to annexed by Russia Friday.
“I’ve also been equally clear that Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized in one way or another by Russia,” he said in response to a question from CNN’s Kylie Atwood at a news conference Tuesday.
“Because there is no change at all in the territory that is being annexed by the Russians as a matter for us or for the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians will continue to do what they need to do to get back the land that has been taken from them. We will continue to support them in that effort,” Blinken said at the news conference.