At UN, Ukraine Protests Russian Presidential Elections on Its Territory

united nations — Ukraine, joined Friday by more than 55 countries at the United Nations, condemned Russia’s attempts to organize elections on occupied Ukrainian land, saying they were not valid.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the Russian Federation’s illegitimate attempts to organize Russian presidential elections in temporarily occupied areas within the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine,” the group said in a statement read by Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, flanked by his counterparts.

“Holding elections in another U.N. member state’s territory without its consent is in manifest disregard for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “Such elections have no validity under international law.”

Starting Friday and continuing through Sunday, Russians are casting votes in polls that international election observers have dismissed as having no chance of being free or fair and are designed to return President Vladimir Putin to power for another six years.

Ukraine, supported by council member Slovenia, requested that the U.N. Security Council meet Friday to discuss Russia’s holding of the vote in areas of Ukraine that Russian forces have seized and occupied, including Crimea and the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“You convened an entire Security Council meeting to criticize Russia for Russia’s conduct of democratic elections on territories which administratively, politically and economically are part of our country — like it or not,” Russia Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said.

Ukraine’s envoy dismissed the Russian election as a “travesty” and said residents in the occupied areas have been subject to broad intimidation by local authorities to participate in the “sham” election.

“Among them, threats against life, illegal detention, denial of access to health care and social services, threats of deportation and deprivation of property,” Kyslytsya said. “We should not forget that these actions take place at gunpoint.”

“Let’s call this what this is: It’s a blatant propaganda exercise, undertaken in the hopes of somehow strengthening Russia’s false claim to the parts of Ukraine it illegally invaded,” said U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said as the occupying power, Russia is obligated to uphold Ukrainian laws in the occupied territories. She said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Russia’s intention to conduct presidential elections in these areas as “unacceptable.”

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