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By Simon Lewis
WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States will act at the U.N. Security Council on Friday to hold Russia accountable for holding what he called "sham" referendums in parts of Ukraine and proclaiming them Russian territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Friday proclaimed Russian rule over four regions that make up 15% of Ukraine's territory - the biggest annexation in Europe since World War Two. The move has been firmly rejected by Western countries and even many of Russia's close allies.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Tuesday the United States would jointly introduce a resolution with Albania that will call on member states not to recognize any altered status of Ukraine and obligate Russia to withdraw its troops.
Blinken told a news conference that Washington was taking action to hold Russia accountable on Friday, when a Security Council meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST (1900 GMT).
The council, which has met more than 20 times on Ukraine this year, has been unable to take meaningful action because Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member along with the United States, France, Britain and China.
Russia says the regions chose to be part of Russia in the referendums. It says the voting, in parts of Ukraine where Moscow has seized territory by force and where fighting still rages, was conducted transparently and in line with electoral norms.
Kyiv and Western governments have denounced the referendums as illegal and coercive.
Washington has signaled it would look to the U.N. General Assembly, the majority of which voted to condemn Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, if the resolution fails.
"If Russia blocks the Security Council from carrying out its responsibilities, we'll ask the U.N. General Assembly, where every country has a vote, to make clear that it's unacceptable to redraw borders by force," Blinken said on Friday, speaking alongside Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. "Every country has a stake in condemning these steps." (Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis)