There will be consequences for those who assisted in the illegal referenda in four regions of Ukraine on joining Russia, an EU official said on Tuesday.
“The European Union considers these so-called referenda illegal,” Peter Stano, the lead spokesperson of the EU’s diplomatic service told reporters at the European Commission’s daily news briefing.
He explained that the referenda on joining the Russian Federation were “organized in Ukrainian territory amid military control from the aggressor.”
According to the position of the EU and the G7 group representing the world’s most advanced economies, these elections prove that Russia is interested in escalating the conflict with Ukraine instead of seeking peace, Stano added.
“We will react to this escalation in an adequate way,” he said.
Stano declined to comment on the details of the upcoming sanctions package while it is under negotiation, but asserted that “there will be consequences for all people who assisted in these illegal referenda.”
EU ambassadors held a meeting on Monday to prepare a new set of sanctions against Russia after top EU diplomats mandated them last week to work on restrictive measures and a new military aid package in response to the partial mobilization in Russia.
Since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine in February, the bloc has provided a total of €2.5 billion ($2.5 billion) in military aid, including lethal weapons, as well as personal protective gear, first aid kits, and fuel.
It has also imposed seven sanctions packages, targeting, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, banning gold, oil, and coal imports, and the export of luxury goods and high-tech technology, as well as excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT international payment system.
Separatist-controlled Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk and Russian-controlled Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions held referenda on joining the Russian Federation between Sept. 23-27.