EU to sanction organisers of ‘illegal’ votes in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine

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Organisers of “illegal” votes in four seized regions of Ukraine, which Russia is holding as “referendums” with the intention of annexing, may face sanctions, the European Union announced on Tuesday. 

As the fifth and final day of voting began, Josep Borrell’s spokesperson, Peter Stano, warned journalists that “there would be consequences for all people who participate in the illegal, illegitimate referendums.” 

As per Luc Devigne, a senior member of Borrell’s foreign policy team, “we will put in individuals that are obviously linked to the recent steps with these referendums” in the sanctions package.

The 27 EU members are debating new penalties on Russia for staging the referendum, which was generally viewed as a “sham” in the West. 

Both Stano and Devigne emphasised that the EU would not recognise the outcomes of Russia’s “referendums,” which are anticipated to result in President Vladimir Putin announcing the annexation of the four regions of Ukraine as early as this Friday. 

The voting is conducted in the same manner as the voting that Russia conducted in 2014 in the Crimea region of Ukraine that was occupied; as a result, Moscow annexed Crimea, a move that was not recognised internationally save by a small number of Russian supporters.

Several invited EU residents have participated in the vote in the Ukrainian regions as Russian-backed poll “observers,” including a German energy firm CEO and a far-right French politician, according to reports. 

If proven to have violated EU sanctions, Stano claimed they ran the danger of being penalised.

(with inputs from agencies)

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