Four regions of occupied Ukraine prepare to vote on joining Russia | News about the Russian-Ukrainian war

The referendums will be conducted on Friday, in votes seen as paving the way for the escalation of the war.

Four regions of Russia-occupied Ukraine are preparing to hold referendums, which are seen as paving the way for the formal annexation of about 15% of Ukraine’s territory and have been denounced by Kyiv as illegal.

Voting in Luhansk and Donetsk, the self-proclaimed “independent republics” controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014, as well as the southern provinces of Kherson and Zaporizhia will begin on Friday and continue until until September 27.

Sudden Russian-installed leaders in four regions announced plans on Tuesday After a quick counterattack, Ukraine recaptured the territories that Russia had occupied after invading the country on February 24.

The results were seen as a foregone conclusion in favor of annexation, and Ukraine and its allies have made it clear that they will not recognize the results.

A similar referendum, held in Crimea after the 2014 Russian invasion, found 97 percent in favor of formal annexation in a vote that took place under the close supervision of military personnel. Russian doctor and get not recognized by the international community.

The votes are considered one significant escalation of the seven-month war in Ukraine – in which thousands died and millions were displaced – because the merger would allow Moscow to claim that it was defending its territory.

“If this is Russian territory, they can claim that this is a direct attack on Russia so they can fight without any reservations,” Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai said. with Ukraine TV.

The referendums have been condemned by the United Nations and world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as international bodies such as NATO and the European Union. Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

A series of ballot boxes were apparently placed on a table at a polling station with members of the local election commission in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic sitting in the background.
Voting will begin on Friday in the referendums, which have been denounced by Kyiv as illegal. There will be no outside observers to ensure a free and fair vote [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

The OSCE, which oversees the elections, said the results would have no legal force because they were inconsistent with Ukrainian law or international standards and the regions were not safe.

There would be no independent observers, and most of the pre-war population had fled.

Local officials told the RIA news agency.

“It was all a hoax. Kurt Volker, who served as the US special representative for the Ukraine negotiations from 2017 to 2019 and is now a member of the Center for European Policy Analysis, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t think this has any impact on the situation on the ground and will not change Ukraine’s determination to recover and re-occupy territories. Nor will it harm the West’s determination to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.”

Ukraine sees the referendums as a sign of Russia’s weakness rather than strength.

The day after the referendums were announced, Putin ordered mobilize reserve people to reinforce Russian forces in Ukraine, and declared readiness to use nuclear weapons to counter any attack on Russian territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Any decision taken by the Russian leadership may not change for Ukraine.”

“The concern for us is the tasks ahead. This is the cause of liberating our country, protecting the people and mobilizing the support of the world [public opinion] to perform those tasks. “

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