Occupied Ukrainian regions plan ‘vote’ on joining Russia
There are multiple Kremlin-backed authorities in the occupied east and south Ukraine It has been announced that they will hold a referendum this week on formally joining Russia, a move that has the potential to redefine the scope of the conflict.
The referendum could pave the way for Russia to annex these areas, allowing Moscow to designate Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself, giving Moscow an excuse to escalate its military response.
The latest developments follow a major shift in Russia’s stance following Ukraine’s sudden and successful offensive on most of the occupied territories Kharkiv This month, this inspired Western supporters in Ukraine and led to accusations of Moscow.
In seemingly coordinated statements, the occupied Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, as well as the Russian-appointed leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic, said they planned to start the 23rd Sept. Start your “voting”.
The four regions that announced plans for the referendum together make up about 18 percent of Ukraine’s territory. Russia does not fully control any of the four.
Ukraine has Rejection of the referendum announcement In the occupied areas, it was a “hoax” out of “fear of failure”, while the country’s Western supporters said they would not change their support for Ukraine.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield denounced the expected referendum in a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kouleba on Tuesday and reiterated that the United States would not recognize Russia’s “claimed annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” any attempt.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the referendum had no credibility and would not affect U.S. support for Ukraine.
The Kremlin has yet to fully support a potential referendum, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment on plans. Tuesday, Disseminated reports Putin was preparing to address the nation, but the speech never materialized, instead analysts close to the Kremlin said it had been delayed until Wednesday morning local time.
But the announcements were quickly supported by Russian politicians. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has publicly backed a referendum in the self-proclaimed republic of Donbass, saying it has “huge significance” for the “systematic protection” of residents.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian National Security Council, said on his Telegram channel that once the republic is incorporated into the Russian Federation, “the future leaders of Russia, no officials can overturn these decisions.”
The announcement of the referendum also comes amid changes and proposals to change the way Russia codifies military service.
The State Duma, the Russian lower house, Changed the law In terms of military service, penalties for breaches of military service obligations, such as desertion and evasion of service, were tougher on Tuesday, state news agency TASS reported.
Separately, State Duma deputies and senators have prepared an amendment to the Russian Federation’s Penal Code recommending up to five years imprisonment for sabotage or negligent damage to weapons and military equipment in wartime, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Delegates also introduced concepts such as “mobilization”, “martial law”, “wartime” and “armed conflict” into the Russian penal code, which will now be seen as aggravating factors in criminal sentences.