President Joe Biden said the United States will never recognize Russia's referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine.
"The United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than part of Ukraine. Russia’s referenda are a sham — a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter," Biden said in a statement.
The President said the US will continue to work with allies to "impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia.
"The United States stands with our partners around the world — and with every nation that respects the core tenets of the UN charter — in rejecting whatever fabricated outcomes Russia will announce," the statement said.
Some background: Four Russian-occupied areas began voting Friday in referendums on joining Russia, according to their separatist leaders, in a move that raises the stakes of Moscow's invasion.
The referendums, which are illegal under international law and dismissed as a sham by Western governments and Kyiv, could pave the way for Russian annexation of the areas, allowing Moscow to frame the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself.