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UNITED NATIONS: The UN reaffirmed its commitment to Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” on Tuesday (Sep 27), as pro-Moscow authorities in several parts of the war-torn nation claimed victory in annexation votes condemned internationally as a sham.

“The United Nations remains fully committed to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders,” Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told a meeting of the UN Security Council.

Addressing the meeting by video link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once more denounced the ballots hastily organised in Russian-occupied regions – Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.

“There’s a very cynical attempt to force the male population in occupied territory of Ukraine to mobilise into the Russian army, in order to send them to fight against their own homelands,” he charged.

“In front of the eyes of the whole world, Russia is conducting an outright farce called a ‘referendum’ on the occupied territory of Ukraine,” he said.

“People are forced to fill out some papers for a TV picture under the muzzles of machine guns.

“The figures of the alleged results of the pseudo-referendum were drawn in advance,” he said.

Taking aim at Russian leader Vladmir Putin, Zelenskyy warned that “annexation is the kind of move that puts him alone against the whole of humanity.”

“A clear signal is now needed from every country in the world,” he said.

He said the votes mean Kyiv will not negotiate with Moscow.

“There is nothing to talk about with (the) current Russian president,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy said later on Tuesday that Ukraine will “defend” citizens in Russia-held regions

“We will act to protect our people: both in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhzhia region, in the Donbas, in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, and in the Crimea,” he said in a video posted on Telegram.

In spite of Zelenskyy’s appeals, there is no chance of the Security Council – where Russia holds a veto – reaching a united stance on the annexation move.

Nevertheless, the United States intends to submit a resolution condemning the “sham referenda”, urging member states “not to recognise any altered status of Ukraine and obligating Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine,” said the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

China’s statements and vote on the resolution will be monitored closely for signals of any changes in its stance towards Russia, which it has yet to condemn over its invasion of Ukraine.

“Our position and proposition on how to view and handle the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear,” said Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun on Tuesday.

“That is, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected.”

In February, just after Moscow’s forces invaded, China chose to abstain on a resolution deploring the action, which was nonetheless vetoed by Russia.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s UN ambassador, made clear that Russia would wield its veto again, criticising the move as “temper tantrums of the Western delegations.”

“The referendums were conducted exclusively transparently, with upholding of all the electoral norms,” Nebenzia argued, adding that the West’s only aim was to “weaken and bleed dry Russia as much as possible.”