The European Union "strongly" condemned the "illegitimate" elections held over the weekend in Russian-annexed parts of Ukraine, adding that it will not recognize their results.
"These illegal so-called 'elections' in Ukraine took place amidst Russia’s forced and illegal granting of passports, including to children, forced transfer and deportation, widespread and systematic violations and abuses of human rights as well as intimidation and increasing repression of Ukrainian citizens by Russia and its illegitimately appointed authorities in the temporary occupied territories of Ukraine," the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said Monday in a press release.
Borrell urged Russia to "immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders."
"Sham" elections: Russia staged regional and local elections from September 8-10 in southern and eastern parts of Ukraine it has illegally annexed.
The elections represented another attempt by Moscow to enforce a narrative of Russian legitimacy in the parts of Ukraine it holds — areas of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Luhansk regions — even as Kyiv's counteroffensive makes some progress towards liberating towns in the south.
The international community broadly dismissed the elections as a sham.
A resident of the southern city of Melitopol told CNN "the election results are already well known" — before the vote had even been held.