As the Kremlin prepares to annex four Ukrainian territories, the United States has reiterated that it sees the move as an illegitimate takeover, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Thursday.
In a statement, Mr. Blinken said that the Kremlin’s move was a “further attempt at a land grab” that “violates international law,” and that the United States would only ever recognize the areas as part of Ukraine. He also condemned the “sham” referendums that concluded earlier this week, which have been widely dismissed by leaders around the world as rigged votes in which some Ukrainians were forced to cast ballots at gunpoint. “It is an affront to the principles of international peace and security,” he said.
Mr. Blinken said that the United States would continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” (On Wednesday, the Pentagon pledged an additional $1.1 billion in long-term military aid to Ukraine.)
Mr. Blinken made similar remarks at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, when he denounced the referendums as a “diabolical scheme.”
Formalities intended to give Russia’s annexation plans a sheen of legitimacy have already been set in motion, as Russian proxy officials in the four occupied areas appealed to join Russia on Wednesday. This bureaucratic order is at odds with chaos back home, as hundreds of thousands have fled the country since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced a military draft last week. On Thursday, Mr. Putin conceded that some men were wrongly drafted.