ZAPORIZHZHIA (Ukraine), Sept 30 (Reuters/AFP): US President Joe Biden vowed Thursday to "never, never, never" recognize the results of Russian-led referendums in Ukraine, which he called a "flagrant violation" of international principles.
"I want to be very clear about this. The United States will never, never never recognize Russia's claims on Ukraine sovereign territory," Biden said as he met Pacific Island leaders in Washington.
"The so-called referenda was a sham, an absolute sham. The results were manufactured in Moscow," he said.
"The true will of the Ukrainian people is evident every day as they sacrifice their lives to save their people and maintain the independence of their country," Biden said.
Referring to President Vladimir Putin, Biden said, "Russia's assault on Ukraine in pursuit of Putin's imperial ambitions is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The Kremlin said that the annexation of four parts of Ukraine would be formally announced on Friday, with Putin delivering a speech.
Putin has made veiled threats to use nuclear weapons to defend the territories, amid Ukrainian gains on the ground against Russia, which invaded on February 24.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday condemned Russia's plans to declare the annexation of occupied parts of Ukraine, calling it "a dangerous escalation" that "has no place in the modern world."
"Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned," Guterres said in a statement.
"It must not be accepted."
Guterres said any annexation of a country's territory based on the use of force violates the UN Charter and international law.
He said much-criticized referendums held by Russia in the occupied regions took place in the middle of a war under Russian armed occupation and outside Ukraine's own constitutional framework.
"They cannot be called a genuine expression of the popular will," he said.
A Reuters report adds: Missiles slammed into a car market in southern Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 23 people in a convoy of civilian vehicles and leaving bloodied bodies strewn across the ground in an attack local officials blamed on Russia.
The convoy had been assembling at the car market on the edge of the city of Zaporizhzhia, preparing to leave Ukrainian territory to visit relatives and deliver supplies in an area controlled by Russia, witnesses and Ukrainian officials said.
Car windows were blown out by the impact of the missile strike, and their sides were sprayed by shrapnel, a Reuters witness said.
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