Baltic formins issue joint statement on Russia’s upcoming presidential elections

Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Monday simultaneously summoned Russia's charge d'affaires ad interim to hand them a joint statement about Russia's fictitious elections and to express strong indignation at the killing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

«Almost ten years have passed since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion and aggression against Ukraine,» the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states note in the statement.

«As this brutal war continues, claiming lives of Ukrainians and causing enormous human suffering and destruction, Russia plans to organize so-called elections on the dates coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea, which is yet another blatant provocation by Russia. Russia has announced that it intends holding them also in temporarily occupied and illegally annexed territories of Ukraine. This step is difficult to treat as anything but yet another attempt to legalize the temporary occupation and annexation of the Ukrainian territories,» they add.

«We, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while referring to the statement of the European Union High Representative Josep Borrell from December 12, 2023, stress that holding Russia's elections in the temporarily occupied and illegally annexed territories of Ukraine is a grave violation of international law, the UN Charter and Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not and will not recognize holding of such elections nor their results in Ukraine’s territories temporarily occupied and illegally annexed by Russia. Russia has no legitimate basis for any such action on the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. We strongly condemn these unacceptable decisions by Russia’s political leadership. Russia’s political leadership and those involved in organizing such action will bear the consequences of these illegal activities,» it is said in the joint statement.

«We firmly support Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukraine,» the foreign ministers note in the statement.

«The upcoming presidential 'elections' in Russia will be neither free nor fair. In the environment of total crackdown on opposition and independent media, with lack of credible alternative candidates and without the international monitoring, these elections will lack any democratic legitimacy,» the statement reads.

«Meanwhile we confirm that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania continue to respect our international obligations to ensure the security of diplomatic missions and their staff in our countries, and will continue doing so,» the ministers add.

According to Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and a dictator who consistently violates international law.

«He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity. The killing of his most vocal and influential critic, Alexei Navalny, in a prison camp sends a clear message to presidential candidates running against Putin: opposing war will kill you,» Tsahkna added.

«Today, together with our colleagues from Latvia and Lithuania, we issued a joint statement in which we gave our assessment of these elections, which have nothing to do with democracy. We firmly stand behind the common position of the European Union, supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We condemn and do not intend to recognize either the elections or their results in the annexed and occupied territories of Ukraine,» the minister said.