The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized countries condemned Russia on Tuesday for conducting elections in Ukrainian regions that Moscow has "illegally occupied" as part of the country's unified local polls.

"We...unequivocally condemn the staging of sham 'elections' held by Russia" in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts as well as Crimea, the statement said, referring to the contests held ahead of the presidential election in March 2024.

The ruling party under President Vladimir Putin's government claimed landslide wins in Moscow and other areas, including the four Ukrainian regions whose annexation Russia declared following its invasion that began in February last year. Russia seized Crimea in 2014.

All five areas are part of Ukraine, said the foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with the high representative of the European Union.

"We will never recognize Russia's illegitimate claims to sovereign Ukrainian territory and call on all states to unequivocally reject them," the statement said.

Photo taken on Oct. 26, 2022, shows destroyed buildings in Sloviansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, following Russian attacks. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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