Russia Triggers Plan To Formally Annex Occupied Ukrainian Regions

Russia activates the official plan to annex the occupied Ukrainian regions

Two Russian-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine have announced plans to hold referendums on Russia’s accession this weekend, and an ally of President Vladimir Putin said the votes would change. change the geopolitical landscape in Moscow’s favor forever.

The move, which severely escalates Moscow’s relations with the West, comes after Russia’s inversion of the battlefield in northeastern Ukraine and as Putin ponders his next steps in the protracted conflict. nearly seven months caused the most serious East-West rift since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and neighboring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said the planned referendums would be held from September 23 to 27.

In a social media post addressed to Putin, the head of the DPR Denis Pushilin wrote: “I ask you, as soon as possible, in the event of a positive decision in the referendum – which we have no doubt – consider the fact that the DPR becomes part of Russia.”

Earlier, on Tuesday, Russian-installed officials in the southern Kherson region, where Moscow’s forces control about 95 percent of the territory, said they had also decided to hold a referendum. idea. Pro-Russian authorities in part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region are expected to follow suit.

Ukraine and the United States have said such referendums would be an illegal spoof and have made it clear that they and many other countries will not recognize the results.

Dmitry Medvedev, the former president who is now Vice-President of the Security Council, suggested before the announcement that the results of such votes would be irrevocable and allowed Moscow – the country with an arsenal of weapons the world’s largest nuclear – what to defend. it will be legally considered its own territory.

“Encroaching on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all your self-defense forces,” Medvedev said in a Telegram post. “This is why these referendums are so scary in Kyiv and the West.”

No future Russian leader, he added, can constitutionally reverse their results.

Vyacheslav Volodin, head of the Russian State Duma, Lower House, said that his chamber would support the two regions joining Russia if they voted to do so.

Washington and the West have so far been cautious not to provide Ukraine with weapons that could be used to encircle Russian territory, and Medvedev’s interpretation of what the annexation actually means from a legal perspective. Moscow’s point is like a future warning to the West.

“They (referendums) will completely change Russia’s development vector for decades. And not just our country. The geopolitical transformation of the world will be irreversible once it is reversed. newly annexed territories to Russia,” he wrote.

It is unclear how the referendum will be held as Russian and Russian-backed forces control only about 60% of the Donetsk region, while Ukrainian forces are trying to retake Luhansk.

Pro-Russian officials have previously said the referendums could be held electronically.

The move comes eight years after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.


The referendum was announced after Ukraine said its troops had recaptured the village of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region and were preparing to retake the entire province hitherto completely occupied by Russian forces.

Unverified footage on social media shows Ukrainian forces in the village, located 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of the city of Lysychansk, falling to Russian forces after weeks of fighting in July.

“There will be fighting to the centimeter,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing to defend. So we won’t simply march in.”

Russia considers complete control of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk province the main target of what it calls “special military operations” in Ukraine, alleging that Russian-speaking people there have been captured by Ukrainian government troops. repression and even shelling, which Kyiv denies.

Ukrainian troops have begun advancing into Luhansk after driving Russian forces out of the northeastern province of Kharkiv in a flash counterattack this month.

“The occupiers are clearly panicking,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a televised address late Monday, adding that he was now focusing on “speed” in the regions. liberated.

“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed at which life is restored to normal,” Zelenskiy said.

The Ukrainian leader also hinted that he would use a video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to urge countries to speed up the shipment of weapons and aid.

Reuters could not independently verify either side’s battlefield reports.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from the syndication feed.)

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