The foreign minister called on countries to reject the “masquerade” of referendums to be held in Russian-held regions in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Speaking before the United Nations Security Council, James Cleverly said that Vladimir Putin planned to fix the results of the votes on joining Russia.

He said: “We have information which means that we know that Russia is about to hold sham referendums on sovereign Ukrainian territory without legal basis under the threat of violence after massive displacements of people in areas who voted overwhelmingly for Ukrainian independence.

“We know what Vladimir Putin is doing. He plans to fabricate the result of these referendums, he plans to use it to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory, and he plans to use it as another pretext to intensify his aggression.

“We call on all countries to reject this charade and refuse to recognize the results.”

Russian Foreign Minister leaves UN summit after speech

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