US says Russia to hold ‘mock’ referendums in Ukrainian regions

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‘We expect Russia to manipulate the results of these referendums and falsely claim that Ukrainians want to join Russia,’ says senior Biden administration official and warns ‘land grabbing’ won’t happen undisputed.

The southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russian control since the first weeks of Moscow’s “military operation“. (Reuters)

Moscow is set to hold ‘mock’ referendums in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine on joining Russia, but officials fear low turnout could hurt the whole exercise, a senior Biden administration official said.

Our intelligence shows that referendums will be held in Kherson, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and parts of Kharkiv and that the Russians are selecting candidates and administrators for these territories for the vote “which could take place as early as the next few weeks”, the official said on Friday. American official. .

Citing intelligence information, the official stressed that Russian officials fear low turnout and the vote lacks legitimacy “probably due to the damage Russia has caused to Ukraine and local opposition generalized to the occupation”.

“These officials are absolutely right. We expect Russia to manipulate the results of these referendums and falsely claim that Ukrainians want to join Russia,” he said, adding that “the grabbing of land” by Russia will not go unnoticed.

Washington will bring additional sanctions against Moscow and its “puppet officials” it has placed in the region in the event of referendums, he said.

Referendum in Zaporizhzhia

Earlier this week, Moscow-backed authorities in the Zaporizhzhia region announced they would hold a referendum on joining Russia.

“I signed a decree (…) to start working on the issue of organizing a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation,” said Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the administration installed by Russia in the occupied part of the region.

The southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russian control since the first weeks of Moscow’s “military operation“.

The two are now merged in Russia.

The separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk partially broke away from kyiv in 2014 and an eight-year war with the Ukrainian military ensued.

Russian troops took full control of the Luhansk region this summer and said they aimed to capture the entire Donetsk region.

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The separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose independence Moscow recognized in February, are located in the Donbass region at the center of the Russian offensive and have been outside kyiv's control since 2014.

The breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Moscow recognized as independent in February, are located in the Donbass region at the center of Russia’s offensive and have been outside kyiv’s control since 2014. (TRTWorld)

Annexation of Crimea

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine after holding a referendum there.

The vast majority of the world community did not recognize the result of this vote.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that if Moscow holds new referendums there could be no talks with Kyiv or its international allies.

“If the occupiers continue on the path of pseudo-referendums, they will close off any possibility of talks with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will clearly need at some point,” he warned.

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Source: World TRT



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