White House slams proposed Russian-backed votes in Ukraine as 'sham referenda'

The US will never recognise Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine as "anything other than parts of Ukraine", national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said. Mr Sullivan made the comments on Tuesday, after signs that Russia could soon push for what the US describes as "sham referenda" for local populations.Vladimir Putin has since confirmed he will back the votes, which will take place at short notice in a number of separatist regions.The White House has suggested any referenda will be "in direct violation of Ukraine's sovereignty".