Russian officials in occupied Ukraine reported a large majority of support for Russia’s accession on Tuesday, after five days voting in so-called referendums that Kyiv & the West branded a sham.
The voting was conducted in a hurry in the following areas: Donetsk and Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson. These regions make up 15% of the territory of Ukraine.
Luhansk authorities claim that 98.4% of those surveyed had voted in favor of Russia. The figure was put at 93% by a Zaporizhzhia-appointed Russian official. Kherson, who was head of the voting committee, put the “yes” vote at more than 87%.
Denis Pushilin, a self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, stated that 99.2% of those surveyed had voted in favor of Russia. All four regions claimed that all ballots had been counted.
Russian-installed officials took ballot boxes from one house in occupied territories. This was a coercive, illegal exercise that West and Ukraine called illegal. It created legal pretexts to allow Russia to annexe these four regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin could use any attempt to capture them by Ukraine as an attack on Russia. He stated last week that he was prepared to usenuclear weapons to preserve Russia’s “territorial inviolability”.
Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin ally and now the deputy chairman Russia’s Security Council, posted a brief celebratory message via Telegram. He stated, “The referendums are over.” These are the results. Russia, welcome home!
These four regions allowed Russian citizens to vote. The state news agency RIA reported early results that 96% of the population supported Moscow’s rule.
Seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine in April 2014, Ukraine warned repeatedly that Russian annexation would destroy any possibility of peace negotiations. According to the report Ukrainians involved with organizing the vote would be charged with treason.
Dmytro Kuleba (the Ukrainian Foreign Minister) urged the European Union to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia in order for it to be punished. He stated that it would not alter Ukraine’s actions in the field.
These votes were mirrors of a referendum that was held in Crimea after Russia’s 2014 seize of the southern peninsula from Ukraine. Crimea’s leaders stated that 97% of the population wanted to join Russia and seize Ukraine in that year.
Putin said on Tuesday that the votes were meant to protect citizens against what he called persecution by Ukraine of ethnic Russians. This was something that the Kyiv government refuted.
He stated that “Saving peoples in all territories where the referendum takes place” was his top priority.
Moscow has been taking steps to “Russify” the areas it controls in recent months, issuing Russian passports and revising school curriculas.
The referendums were swiftly moved forward after Ukraine gained momentum on the battlefield, defeating Russian forces in northeastern Kharkiv.
Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Russian parliament’s upper house, stated that if the results were favorable, then the Russian parliament could contemplate the incorporation of the four regions on October 4, three days before Putin’s 70th Birthday.
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