‘Sham’ vote begins in Russia’s annexation plan for eastern Ukrainian territory – National

Voting kicked off on Friday in four Ukrainian regions largely controlled by Russian forces, kicking off a plan by President Vladimir Putin to annex much of Ukraine in what the West says is a violation of international law. the war escalates significantly.

After nearly seven months of war that killed tens of thousands and left some of Ukraine’s eastern cities wasteland, Putin said he will annex the regions if people in the Russian-controlled areas vote to join Russia.

The vote, which the West and Ukraine say is a sham under military occupation, started on Friday and is set to end on Tuesday, with results expected shortly after.

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Voting takes place in the self-proclaimed Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR), which were recognized as independent just before Putin’s invasion, and in the Russian-controlled areas of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions

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“We have all been waiting for a referendum on Russia’s accession for eight years,” said Leonid Pasechnik, Luhansk’s Russian-backed leader. “We have already become part of Russia. There is only one small thing left: to win (the war).”

“We are returning home,” said Russian-backed Donetsk leader Denis Pushilin. “Donbas is Russia.”

Results supporting Russia’s accession are almost certain, as is a quickly choreographed legal annexation along the lines of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, which lasted just a few days.

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Russia and Ukraine sign major prisoner swap deal during war

Russia and Ukraine sign major prisoner swap deal during war

As the vote began, Ivan Fedorov, the ousted Ukrainian mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol, part of Zaporizhzhya province, told Telegram that residents of the city center heard a loud explosion at 7 a.m. local time.

“People are afraid to leave their homes,” Fedorov said.

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Although Russia recognized Ukraine’s post-Soviet borders under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Putin considers parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to be Russian possessions lost through the mistakes of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Khrushchev.

Ukraine says it will never accept Russian control of its territory and will fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected.

“The Kremlin is organizing a mock referendum to try to annex parts of Ukraine,” US President Joe Biden said at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Ukraine has the same rights that belong to any sovereign nation. We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine,” said Biden, pitching the war as part of a global struggle between democracy and autocracy.

Putin, Russia’s top leader since 1999, said this week that Russia would never abandon those in the regions of Ukraine it controls and who he said wanted to secede from Kiev because they would be killed by ” executioners’.

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He frames the war as both a struggle to save Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine from persecution and as a way to thwart what he believes is a Western plot to destroy Russia. Ukraine denies that Russian speakers have been persecuted.

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In a direct nuclear warning to the West, Putin said he would defend Russian territory with all the means at his disposal.

It is unclear exactly how the voices will work in a war zone when so many people are displaced. Russia controls most of Luhansk and Kherson, about 66 percent of Zaporizhzhya and only 60 percent of Donetsk. The battles continue in all four regions.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Russian-installed officials in the regions set targets for made-up turnout and approval rates, and some turnout figures had already been agreed.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was overthrown during the Maidan revolution in Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea, while Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas – which consists of Donetsk and Luhansk – tried to escape. to the control of Kiev.

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Professor of Defense Studies discusses the future of the Ukrainian war

Professor of Defense Studies discusses the future of the Ukrainian war

After Russian forces took control of Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and was transferred to Ukraine during Soviet times, a referendum was held on February 27, 2014 on joining Russia on March 16.

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Crimean leaders voted to secede from Ukraine with 97 percent of the vote. Russia formally added Crimea on March 21. Kiev and the West said the referendum violated Ukraine’s constitution and international law.

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