The European Union has issued a statement rejecting "elections" scheduled for November 11 in the separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine, saying that they are a breach of international law and undermine the Minsk agreements aimed at resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
"The EU considers the 'elections' planned for November 11, 2018, in the nongovernment-controlled territories of the so-called 'Luhansk People's Republic' and 'Donetsk People's Republic' as illegal and illegitimate and will not recognize them," the November 10 EU statement said.
It also called on Russia "to make full use of its considerable influence over the separatists it backs" to ensure the speedy and complete implementation of the Minsk agreements "starting with a comprehensive cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry."
The European Union, the United States, and UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo have previously rejected the planned votes.
Ukraine has also denounced the polls, which according to the 2015 Minsk agreements should be held under Ukrainian law.
"I expect that the fake elections that Russia decided to hold on November 11 will prompt the imposition of new sanctions and show that the West's patience is not unlimited," said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on November 7. "It is time now to talk not about easing the sanctions on Russia but about tightening them."
Poroshenko added on November 10 that “we are absolutely sure that no one will recognize these elections. They fall outside the standards of the Ukrainian legislation."
He added that the elections "are absolutely unacceptable…Security conditions have not been created."
Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiation, echoed those comments while speaking in Kyiv, saying the EU is committed to the Minsk accords and reiterating that the bloc will not recognize the election
Ahead of the vote, four Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed in or near separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.
Two soldiers died after being ambushed by separatists near the city of Luhansk, the Ukrainian military said.
In a separate incident, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded in an explosion near Svitlodarsk in the nearby Donetsk region.
Russia provides military, political, and economic support to the separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.
In November 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined the conflict to be "an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation."
More than 10,300 people have been killed since the violence erupted in April 2014, as Russia was fomenting separatism in eastern Ukraine after pro-European protests drove Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from power.