The Independent has said that the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, are planning to vote on their joining Russia. According to the newspaper, these referendums against the background of the Ukrainian armed forces’ counter-offensive look like a political challenge to Western governments from Moscow.
Four “separatist” regions in Ukraine have announced that they will hold referenda this week to formally join Russia. The political move looks like a coordinated political challenge to the West and comes amid counterattacks by the Ukrainian armed forces, The Independent has said.
According to the paper, “urgent elections” are to be held in the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, as well as in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions. As a result, they should officially leave Ukraine and “come under Moscow’s control”.
The DNR authorities said that they would hold a referendum between 23-27 September and called on President Vladimir Putin to admit the republic to Russia as soon as possible after the vote. The LNR authorities issued a similar statement.
In the Kherson region, “which is 95 per cent controlled by Russian troops”, calls for the vote were first made a fortnight ago, but then they decided to “suspend” it for security reasons. Nevertheless, the day before, the head of the local administration, Vladimir Saldo, said the referendum would take place and expressed hope that the region would become “a full-fledged subject of a single state”.
Moscow recognised the DPR and LPR as independent states back in February. It now says that securing their territory is the main objective of the special operation, The Independent points out.
The decision to hold the votes was backed by former President and “ardent Putin supporter” Dmitry Medvedev. He said the referendums would help “restore historical justice” and “completely change the vector of the country’s development” for decades. At the same time, the politician reminded: “Encroachment on the territory of Russia is a crime, the commission of which allows using all the forces of self-defense.
The votes will almost certainly produce results favourable to Moscow, but will not be recognised by Western governments. At the same time, the referendums might “prepare the ground for an escalation of the conflict” amid the Ukrainian army’s attempts to retake the territory, the paper argues.
Meanwhile, Kiev has already said that the upcoming referendums “will not change anything”. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov, the Russian authorities see no prospects for a diplomatic settlement of the current crisis, The Independent has concluded.
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