Ukraine warns of harsh response to Russian recognition of 'worthless' votes

Ukraine's President Zelenskiy commemorates victims of the Nazi massacre in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a new warning to Russia of a "very harsh" response by Ukraine if Moscow annexes four Ukrainian regions following what Kyiv and the West say were sham referendums held by Russia at gunpoint.

A statement issued by Zelenskiy's office after a telephone call with Italy's prime minister did not refer to a ceremony on Friday in which President Vladimir Putin will sign documents proclaiming Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

"They (the votes) are worthless and do not change reality. The territorial integrity of Ukraine will be restored. And our reaction to recognition of the results by Russia will be very harsh," Zelenskiy said.

It was not immediately clear whether Zelenskiy spoke to Prime Minister Mario Draghi before or after the Kremlin announced Friday's ceremony.

(Reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)