The British foreign secretary called on Thursday for countries to reject forthcoming referendums that will be held in Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine. 

"Russia is about to hold sham referenda on sovereign Ukrainian territory with no basis in law under the threat of violence after mass displacements of people in areas that voted overwhelmingly for Ukrainian independence," James Cleverly told the UN Security Council. 

Leaders in four Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson – are holding vote Friday through Tuesday to decide whether their territories would join Russia. 

"We know what Vladimir Putin is doing. He is planning to fabricate the outcome of those referenda, he is planning to use that to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory, and he is planning to use it as a further pretext to escalate his aggression.

"We call on all countries to reject this charade and to refuse to recognize any results."

Cleverly also spoke about the “devastating consequences” of Russia's war on Ukraine, which it initiated in February, saying: "We see the mounting evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians, including indiscriminate shelling and targeted attacks on over 200 medical facilities and 40 educational institutions and horrific acts of sexual violence."

Russia is one of five permanent members of the UNSC, alongside the UK, US, France, and China, all five of whom have veto powers.