Kazakhstan says it won’t recognize referendums in eastern Ukraine

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Kazakhstan, one of Russia’s close ex-Soviet partners, will not recognize the possible annexation of Ukraine’s eastern regions by Russia through referendums held there, the Central Asian nation’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

Voting took place in four Ukrainian regions mostly held by Russian forces, the start of a plan by President Vladimir Putin to annex a big chunk of Ukraine in what the West says is violation of international law that significantly escalates war in the country. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine “a special military operation.”

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“As for the holding of referendums ... Kazakhstan proceeds from the principles of territorial integrity of states, their sovereign equivalence and peaceful coexistence,” ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov said.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has repeatedly called for the resolution of the Ukrainian conflict in line with the United Nations charter.

“We reconfirm our readiness to provide all possible assistance to the establishment of a political dialogue,” Smadiyarov said. “At the same time, our country believes that maintaining stability at either regional or global level is the most important goal.”

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