Residents of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are expected to vote; Ukrainians and allies do not recognize popular consultation
Russia launched this Friday (23.Sep.2022) referendums in 4 occupied regions in Ukraine. Kiev and allies say Moscow wants to use the vote to justify the annexation of the territories and do not recognize the legitimacy of the election.
According to Reuters, popular consultation has been discussed by Russians for months. The process was accelerated after Ukraine regained key territory in a counter-offensive.
This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also began recruiting reserve soldiers. The initiatives indicate efforts by the Kremlin to regain strength and continue the war.
On the same day, on Wednesday (September 21), Putin said that “will use all available means” to protect yourself. Statement is apparent reference to the use of nuclear weapons. “This is not a bluff”, added the Russian president.
Referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, which represent around 15% of Ukraine’s territory, are expected to be concluded by Tuesday (27.Sep).
Ukrainian officials said residents were being forced to vote, under threat of punishment.
Western countries allied with Ukraine also do not recognize the popular consultation. They point out that the referendum will not have independent observers, in addition to considering the annexation illegal. They also mention that a large part of the pre-war population fled after the invasion.
The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which monitors elections, said the results will have no legal relevance as they do not comply with Ukrainian law or international standards.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke on wednesday (September 21) at the General Meeting of UN (United Nations Organization). In recorded video, he said that Russia provoked a “illegal war” on Ukrainian territory and asked “just punishment” against the country.
It also presented aformula” to achieve peace, which includes the creation of a special tribunal at the UN to punish Russia for provoking the conflict in Ukraine. “This will become a signal to all aggressors that they must value peace or they will be held accountable by the world.” said.
The Ukrainian president asked that Russia’s right of veto in the security advice of the UN be withdrawn. “A restriction package must be applied to them. This is the punishment for lying.”said Zelensky.