Several Kremlin-backed authorities in eastern and southern Ukraine have referendums announced where joining Russia will take place this week.
While previous plans for such a vote have been delayed, there was a flurry of announcements on Tuesday from Russian-backed officials in occupied parts of Ukraine – all ready to vote from September 1. Sept. 23 to Sept. 27.
Kherson: The head of the Russian-backed Kherson administration, Vladimir Saldo, said he “signed a decreefor the referendum, which also established the procedure for organizing the vote and “measures of administrative and criminal liability in the event of violation of these rules”. Parts of Kherson are on the front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
Luhansk People’s Republic: The leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, also signed referendum law. According to the text, “the Central Electoral Commission of the LPR will determine the results of the referendum on the entry of the Republic into the LPR no later than five dayss after the last day of voting,” according to local media portal Lug-Info.
Donetsk People’s Republic: The self-proclaimed DPR agreed to hold a referendum and the leader said he wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking him for the rapid accession of the republic to the Russian Federation after the holding of a referendum.
Zaporizhia: The so-called National Congress of Citizens of the Zaporizhzhia region has approved by referendumsaid Vladimir Rogov, a senior pro-Russian official in occupied Zaporizhzhia. “Technically, we are ready. The security of the polling stations is ensured. Our borders are reliably protected by the Russian army,” said Yevgeniy Balitskiy, the Russian-appointed head of the Zaporizhzhia regional administration.
Ukrainian response: Ukrainian officials condemned these announcements. The foreign ministry declared that the “fake plebiscites” will not change “the administrative-territorial structure and the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine”. The ministry called the vote a “forced citizenship” of residents and said it was “a new attempt by Russia to legitimize the consequences of its war of aggression against Ukraine.”
Russian answer: The ads received quick support from Russian politicians. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly endorsed referendum in the self-proclaimed Donbass republics, saying it will have “enormous significance” for the “systemic protection” of residents. “Not a future leader of Russia, not an official will be able to reverse these decisions,” he added.
US response: The Pentagon said the announcements are “simply an information operation this is intended to distract from the difficult state in which the Russian military currently finds itself. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also sentenced moves on Tuesday.