Donbass region -The U.S threatens to punish Russia for referendum in Ukraine
In a Sept. 23 news conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the process of joining Russia by self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass region and two other Ukrainian provinces “will happen pretty quickly” if residents vote in favor of the move.
Peskov replied “of course” when asked whether Ukraine’s efforts to retake the areas after annexation were seen by Russia as an attack on the territory.
After Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, the U.S. and its Western allies imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow, targeting key sectors such as banking, oil and gas.
Many Russian billionaires have their assets confiscated by Western countries, while russian citizens have had their visas tightened to Europe.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Austria, said on September 9 that the West had so far imposed “a record 11,000 sanctions on Russia.”
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier said Western sanctions over ukraine had “failed” to undermine Moscow’s financial stability.
In response to Western sanctions, Russia also cut gas supplies to European nations, and announced many retaliatory restrictions in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions.
Washington has warned it will impose more economic sanctions on Moscow if it annexes provinces in Ukraine.
“We and our allies and partners are ready to impose more severe economic sanctions on Russia if they continue to push ahead with the annexation plan.
The russian referendums are a violation of international law and undermine the foundations of the UN Charter,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on September 23.
The White House official gave no details on further sanctions, saying the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine and maintain security aid to the country, and stressed washington would not recognize territories annexed by Moscow after the referendum.
Four Fully or partially controlled Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Lugansk in the east as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south are voting to join Russia from September 23 to September 27.
Ukraine’s government criticized the referendums as staged, insisting the development would not change national sovereignty and that the military “has every right to liberate the territories and will continue to do so.”
Zelensky called on the world to condemn the move. Ukraine also argues that the referendums will destroy the chances of peace talks with Russia.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the annexation was a matter of self-determination by the people of Ukraine’s provinces.
Many senior Russian officials expressed support for the operation.