The four controversial annexation referendums held in recent days in the Russian-occupied eastern regions of Ukraine ended with results favorable to the Moscow government, according to local officials.
The four controversial annexation referendums held in recent days in the Russian-occupied regions of eastern Ukraine have ended with results favorable to the Moscow government, according to local officials.
Those officials installed by the Kremlin ensured that support for annexation to Russia was majority among those who participated in the voting. Much of the international community considers such referendums “fraudulent”. The votes did not have independent observers. The Ukrainian government and its allies denounced the referendums as “a farce.” The votes were held in the eastern breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Voting was also organized in two areas occupied by Russia during the current invasion: the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia.
Refugees scattered across Russia were also able to vote at dozens of polling stations, including in Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014. Partial results indicated huge majorities in favor of annexation to Russia. Up to four million people were called to vote in the war-torn regions, which make up about 15% of Ukraine’s territory.
Pro-Kremlin news agencies in Donetsk and Luhansk report that as many as 99.23% of the population voted for annexation to Russia. Experts have speculated that Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce the annexation of the four regions in a speech to a joint session of the Russian Parliament on Friday.
In 2014, Moscow said Crimea had joined Russia just days after a referendum was held that was also not internationally recognized.
If Russia annexes the four regions, which Moscow does not fully control, it could take the war to a new and more dangerous level, as Moscow describes any attempt by Ukraine to take them back as an attack on its territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of “brutally violating the UN charter” by trying to seize territories by force.
“This farce in the occupied territories cannot even be called an imitation referendum,” he said Tuesday.
The BBC’s Ukraine correspondent, James Waterhouse, says Russia is expected to draft new laws soon around the annexation of these four disputed territories, and has threatened to use more lethal weapons in the future.
“Ukraine and the West have discredited the process, and the BBC was presented with evidence of armed soldiers collecting votes door-to-door, as well as claims that the vote simply did not take place in some places,” Waterhouse reported.
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