The Pentagon said that declarations from leaders of the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to hold referendums on joining the Russian Federation are serving as a distraction after Ukraine's successful counteroffensive.
"This is simply an information operation that’s meant to distract from the difficult state that the Russian military currently finds itself in,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.
Ryder called the call for referendums part of the Russian “playbook.”
“We saw them do this in 2014, and it goes a little something like this: First, you’re going to have proxy officials as what you are seeing in the press right now claim they are going to conduct a referenda, and then they will use that as the basis to try to claim legitimacy in terms of annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory,” Ryder said.
Ryder said the referendums will have no credibility and won’t impact US support to Ukraine.
“No one will view such sham referenda with any credibility and the US certainly will not recognize the outcome of any sham elections,” Ryder said. “We will continue to work with Ukraine and our international partners to provide them with the support they need.”