Diplomats dismiss 'sham' Russian referendums

Pro-Russian separatists in four Ukrainian regions have announced that they will hold referendums on joining Russia.

The separatists said on Tuesday that votes will be held between September 23 and 27 in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

Authorities in Crimea held a similar vote in 2014. Russian forces then invaded and annexed the peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "From the very beginning of the special military operation, but also before it, we've been saying that the people of these territories should decide their own fate."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba derided the votes as a "sham."

Kuleba said, "The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything."

Diplomats, including those from the US, say the votes are a response to Ukrainian gains on the battlefield. They said they would never recognize claims to annex territory.