Russian controlled regions in Ukraine start annexation vote
Voting began on Friday in Moscow-held regions of Ukraine to decide whether these regions will be part of the Russian Federation, Russian-backed Ukrainian officials said.
The referandums in four regions of Ukraine are widely seen in the Western world as shams without any legal basis according to Ukrainian law which will provide a pretext to Russian administration to annex parts of Ukraine.
The votes will be held in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, which represent about 15% of Ukrainian territory, until Tuesday.
The vote asks residents of these regions if they want their regions to be part of Russia, without any presence of independent observers.
Russian backed officials said ballots would be brought to people’s homes and makeshift polling stations would be set up near residential buildings.
Analysts say the results will certainly be “yes,” similar to the referendum which was held in Crimea in 2004 where 97% of the votes were in favor of Russia, leading to the annexation of the region.
The voting follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization, which could add about 300,000 Russian troops to the fight.
The mobilization was decided as a response to an Ukraine counteroffensive this month that led to the recapture of large areas Ukraine lost during the seven month war.
Threats of a Nuclear War
By incorporating the four areas into Russia, Moscow could justify military escalation as necessary to defend its territory. Putin on Wednesday said Russia would "use all the means at our disposal" to protect itself, an apparent reference to nuclear weapons. "This is not a bluff," he said.
"Encroachment onto Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self–defence," Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russia's president from 2008 to 2012, said in a post on Telegram.