Ukraine urges EU to impose economic sanctions on Russia over annexation votes

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attends a high level meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

KYIV, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Ukraine urged the European Union on Tuesday to impose economic sanctions on Russia to punish it for staging annexation votes in four occupied regions, and said the moves by Moscow would not change Ukraine's actions on the battlefield.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, after talks in Kyiv with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, said personal sanctions would not suffice as punishment for the referendums, billed by Russia as a prelude to it annexing four Ukrainian regions.

"It won't be enough to limit oneself to cosmetic measures... the softer the reaction to the so-called referendums, the greater the motivation for Russia to escalate and annex further territories," Kuleba told reporters.

"In the content of the eighth (EU) sanctions package, we will see just how seriously the EU takes the problem of referendums."

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, was holding votes for a fifth and final day on Tuesday in four Ukrainian regions partly controlled by Moscow -- Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia -- on whether or not to secede to Russia. read more

The West and Kyiv say the referendums are illegal and a sham.

"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin's actions won't have any influence on Ukraine's politics, diplomacy and actions on the field of battle," Kuleba told a joint news conference.

Colonna said that French support for Ukraine was "massive" and included humanitarian aid, financial aid and military or diplomatic assistance totalling more than $2 billion.

"Russia is more and more isolated. No one has supported its presentation at the U.N. Security Council. Its narrative is incoherent," she said. "So much so that we can even wonder whether our Russian colleague believed what he was saying. Everybody can see Russia is sinking further into an impasse, whether militarily or vis-a-vis its own people."

Reporting by Max Hunder and Michel Rose; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Timothy Heritage

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