WATCH: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks on Russian referendums in Ukraine territories

A day before the voting ends on the Russian referendums in four Ukrainian territories, the White House underscored it is prepared to impose “swift and severe” economic costs on Russia if they annex the regions.

Watch the briefing in the player above.

The referendums, denounced by Kyiv and its Western allies as rigged, are taking place in the Russian-controlled Luhansk and Kherson regions, and in occupied areas of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.

They are widely viewed as a pretext for annexation, and Russian authorities are expected to announce the regions as theirs once the vote ends Tuesday.

The U.S. “will never recognize this territory as anything other than part of Ukraine,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the White House briefing, and she said the White House will have more to announce in the coming days.

Meanwhile, five days after President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization to call up hundreds of thousands of reservists to fight in Ukraine, the move has triggered outraged protests across Russia, and a fearful exodus of men of fighting age from the country.

Asked if the Biden administration is willing to grant refugee status to those fleeing Russia, Jean-Pierre said “anyone seeking refuge for persecution regardless of their nationality may apply for asylum in the United States and have their claim adjudicated on a case by case basis. That’s where that’s how we see our role here and our part in this.”

EXPLAINER: How a right-wing party of neo-fascist roots became poised to lead Italy

The press secretary also responded to the elections in Italy, where a party with neo-fascist roots, the Brothers of Italy, won the most votes.

Giorgia Meloni will become Italy’s first female prime minister and will lead the most far-right government since World War II.

Jean-Pierre said Italy remains “a NATO ally … a G-7 partner and member of the EU.”

“So we will, we will work that with the new Italian government on the full range of shared global challenges, including supporting Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s aggression,” she said.

The White House also announced Monday that French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Washington in early December for the first state visit of President Joe Biden’s tenure, an occasion marked by pomp and pageantry that is designed to celebrate relations between the United States and its closest allies.

“We deeply value our relationship with with France, which is, as I mentioned at the top, our oldest ally with our bilateral relations founded on shared democratic values, economic ties and defense and security cooperation,” Jean-Pierre said. “It is for these reasons that the president and first lady thought it was important to welcome this close and valued partner to the to the White House for their first, their first state visit.”

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