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HomeWorldFour Ukrainian regions are preparing to hold referendums on joining RussiaAchi...

Four Ukrainian regions are preparing to hold referendums on joining RussiaAchi News

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Ukraine says Russia wants to frame referendum results as a sign of popular support and then use them as a pretext for annexation, similar to its 2014 annexation of Crimea, which is not recognized by the international community.

Justifying self-defense

By annexing the four regions into Russia, Moscow could justify the military expansion needed to defend its territory. Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would “use all means at our disposal” to defend itself, an apparent reference to nuclear weapons. “It’s not nonsense,” he said.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as Russian president from 2008 to 2012, said in a post on Telegram that “trespassing into Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all the forces of self-defense.”

Referendum results in favor of Russia are considered inevitable. A referendum in Crimea in 2014, criticized internationally as rigged, resulted in an official result of 97% in favor of formal annexation.

“If all of this is declared Russian territory, they can declare that this is a direct attack on Russia, so they can fight without any reservations,” Luhansk regional governor Serhii Keitai told Ukrainian television.

US President Joe Biden, UN World leaders including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) condemned the referendum.

NATO said on Thursday that the fake referendum was “illegitimate and illegal”.

The OSCE, which monitors the elections, said the results had no legal force because Ukraine did not comply with law or international standards and the areas were not safe.

There would be no independent visitors, and most of the pre-war population had fled.

Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, part of Moscow’s occupied Donbass region, to be independent states in 2014.

Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine controlled by Russian forces to be illegally occupied. Russia does not fully control any of the four regions, with only about 60% of the Donetsk region in Russian hands.

Ukraine said the vote was a sign Russia was running away. “Any decision taken by the Russian leadership will not change Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday.

“What interests us are the duties before us. It is the liberation of our country, the protection of our people and the mobilization of world support (public opinion) to carry out those tasks.”

Putin says Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to militarize Ukraine, root out dangerous nationalists and protect Russia from NATO.

Kiev and the West call Russia’s actions an unprovoked, imperialist attempt to recapture a country that shook Russian hegemony with the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

fight

Russian forces attacked several towns on Thursday, including about 10 bombs, regional governor Oleksandr Staruk said. There was no immediate information on casualties.

Russian mortar shells killed two people and wounded six others in the town of Doretsk in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said.

The leader of pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk condemned the Ukrainian attacks as a “sinister barbaric shelling”.

“That’s why we want to act quickly and more decisively with measures like holding a referendum,” said Denis Pushilin.

“We’ve been waiting for it for a long time, we’ve dreamed of it, and finally it’s going to happen.”

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

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