BERLIN-Germany on Thursday slammed “sham” referendums in Ukraine’s eastern regions, saying these have been “held at gunpoint” and dictated by Russia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said people in Ukraine’s eastern regions were taken from their homes and workplaces, and forced to vote under threat, and sometimes at gunpoint.

“This is the opposite of a free and fair election. And this is the opposite of peace. It is dictated peace,” Baerbock said during her speech at the annual Berlin Peace Dialogue 2022 conference.

“As long as this Russian dictate prevails in the occupied territories of Ukraine, no citizen is safe, no citizen is free,” she added.

Baerbock said “peace cannot be forced with weapons,” and any peace dictated by military force would not be sustainable.

Ukraine’s separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and Russian-controlled parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson held referendums on joining Russia on Sept. 23-27.

  Around 98% of voters chose to join Russia, Moscow claimed, but the results were highly disputed and dismissed by Ukraine and its Western allies.

  The polls have been widely condemned by the international community, with European nations and the US calling them “sham,” and saying they are a violation of international law.