As Putin ramps up nuclear threats, how world reacts to ‘sham’ referendums is key: Joly – National

As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to issue nuclear threats, it will be crucial how the world reacts to “sham” referendums that will be held in the occupied regions of Ukraine in the coming days to dispel any “false legitimacy” for the moves what he might do next, he warns Canada’s foreign minister.

Melanie Joly spoke Thursday to reporters from New York, where she is attending meetings as part of Canada’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. So far at the General Assembly, world leaders have focused heavily on the global instability caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while laying the groundwork for a counter-push should Putin seek to annex Russian-controlled regions .

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‘We will never recognize them’: Trudeau condemns referenda to annex Ukrainian regions

Many fear claiming them as part of Russia would provide Putin with a dangerous pretext to try to defend himself, using tactical nuclear weapons to stop Ukraine’s continued counteroffensive.

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Joly called Putin’s nuclear threats during the counter-offensive of the past few days “irresponsible” and “unthinkable”, but also warned that “we must not be naïve” about the threats.

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“We need to make sure we work with allies on different scenarios. We now know that Putin is cornered. He’s cornered and becoming more and more isolated,” she said.

“At the same time, we have to be very careful. We must ensure that the international community does not legitimize the sham referendum that Putin is attempting,” Joly added.

“It’s fundamental because we want to make sure that Russia doesn’t have this false legitimacy as an argument that can be used in the context of this illegal and unjustifiable war. That’s why we call it what it is – these are sham referendums and we are mobilizing the international community to make sure they see it that way.”

Joly also said that more sanctions against Russia would come “very soon,” but that she does not support denying Russians visas. Many are currently attempting to flee the country as Putin mobilizes additional forces to support the difficult war effort.

She said Canada also continues to work with other countries at the United Nations to prosecute Putin and Russia for the crime of aggression.

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Click here to play the video: 'We Could Be at a Turning Point': Freeland speaks out on Putin's nuclear threats

‘We could be at a tipping point’: Freeland comments on Putin’s nuclear threats

‘We could be at a tipping point’: Freeland comments on Putin’s nuclear threats

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday also condemned planned referendums to be held between September 23 and 27 by Russian-appointed officials in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces.

The regions represent about 15 percent of Ukrainian territory.

Click here to play the video: 'Failure and Thrashing': Trudeau Denounces Putin's Latest Nuclear Threats, Mobilization in Ukraine

‘Failure and thrashing’: Trudeau condemns Putin’s latest nuclear threats, mobilization in Ukraine

‘Failure and thrashing’: Trudeau condemns Putin’s latest nuclear threats, mobilization in Ukraine

Trudeau said Canada will never honor referendum results, which are widely seen as rigged. European officials have said the same thing.

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Russian officials, meanwhile, have stepped up their rhetoric about the possibility of using nuclear weapons, implying that any attack on territory perceived as Russian would justify any form of military force.

“Trespassing on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all forces of self-defense,” Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president, said on social media.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kremlin TV channel RT, wrote: “Today a referendum, tomorrow recognition as part of the Russian Federation, the day after tomorrow strikes on Russian territory will turn into a full-fledged war between Ukraine and NATO and Russia, unleashing Russia’s hands in every respect .”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland gave a blunt assessment of the situation on Wednesday.

“I think we could be at a turning point in the illegal invasion of Russia,” she said.

“The next step will be for the Russian people to understand that this is a completely destructive, pointless war from the Russian point of view. And we can’t get there soon enough.”

– with files from The Associated Press.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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