Are Russia's Referendums in Ukraine Territories Legitimate?

Four partially occupied Ukrainian regions began voting on Friday in Moscow-staged referendums on joining Russia, but are they legitimate? While Ukraine and its Western

allies have condemned the referendums in the Russian-controlled eastern and southern regions as illegitimate, Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian Federation Council—the

country's upper chamber of parliament—, claimed on Friday that they comply with international norms and the U.N. Charter. Voting in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk,

Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which account for some 15 percent of the country's territory, is set to take place from September 23 to 27. Russia hopes to annex the regions,

seven months into the war. "I am sure that the referendums will take place in a way that no one will have grounds to question their legitimacy. The expression of will takes

place in accordance with international norms and the U.N. Charter," Matviyenko told reporters. "The residents of the DPR, LPR, and other liberated territories have this

right, a legal right. And in today's situation it is actually the right to life," she said, referring to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. A day

earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden accused Russia of preparing a "sham" referendum on the annexation of lands it already occupied in eastern Ukraine, and of violating the U.N.

Charter. "This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and [Ukrainian's] right to exist as a people," he said. "We stand in

solidarity against Russia's aggression, period...you cannot seize another country's territory by force. The only country doing that is Russia."