Ukraine on Saturday strongly condemned Russia’s plans to hold presidential elections on occupied Ukrainian territory in the spring.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called the planned elections “null and void” and pledged that any international observers sent to monitor them would “face criminal responsibility.”
Lawmakers in Russia on Thursday set the country’s 2024 presidential election for March 17.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday moved to prolong his repressive and unyielding grip on Russia for at least another six years, announcing his candidacy in the election. He is all but certain to win.
Russian authorities plan to arrange voting in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — territories Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in September last year but does not fully control — together with the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
The announcement of the presidential election follows local elections for Russian-installed legislatures in occupied parts of Ukraine in September. The votes were denounced as a sham by Kyiv and the West.
“We call on the international community to resolutely condemn Russia’s intention to hold presidential elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories, and to impose sanctions on those involved in their organization and conduct,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said.