According to pro-Moscow officials, all four occupied regions of Ukraine voted to join Russia following referendums in the republics or regions.
James Cleverly, British Foreign Secretary, is one of many western politicians who described earlier the votes in self-declared republics Luhansk & Donetsk as “sham” elections.
This comes just after Russian-installed election officials claimed that 93% of Zaporizhzhia’s ballots were in support for annexation. 87% of ballots were cast in the southern Kherson, 98% in Luhansk, and 99% were in Donetsk.
Referendums were held from September 23rd with many armed officials visiting doors to collect votes.
Officials from the Moscow-backed occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine announced that polls were closed Tuesday afternoon, five days after voting.
Tens of thousands of people fled the region because of the war.
These preordained outcomes will set the stage for an uneasy new phase in Russia’s seven-month-old war in Ukraine. They are expected to be used as a pretext to Moscow’s annexation of the four regions.
This could happen as quickly as Friday.
Russia has increased warnings about its potential use of nuclear weapons to defend its territory.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, stated after the polling that the “situation will radically change in the legal standpoint, from the point-of-view of international law with all the consequences for protecting those areas and ensuring they security.”
Moscow also mobilized more than 25 million troops to be deployed to a frontline of over 620 miles.
This comes as Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, told the UN Security Council via video from Kyiv that Russia’s attempt to annexe Ukrainian territory would mean “there is nothing for talk about with this President of Russia”.
This comment appeared to exclude negotiations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the country’s parliament on Friday about the referendums. Valentina Matviyenko (the parliament’s head) said that lawmakers might consider an annexation bill on October 4.
Referendums are based on a Kremlin strategy for territorial expansion.
Under the watchful eye of Russian troops, Russian authorities organized a similar referendum in 2014 on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Russia annexed Crimea based on voting.
Undersea “blasts” were also recorded while Russia-Germany gas pipelines caused damage to
What’s going on at Russia’s borders, as people flee Putin’s orders
Images show Russians running from Vladimir Putin’s call to fight.
Putin used the defense of Russians in Ukraine’s Eastern Regions and their alleged desire to join Russia as a pretext to invade Ukraine on 24 February.
Since the Ukrainians launched a counteroffensive, the Russian president has been promoting Moscow’s nuclear option and has steadily consolidated his forces.
On Tuesday, a top Putin aide increased the nuclear rhetoric.
“Let’s pretend that Russia is forced use the most powerful tool against the Ukrainian regime which has committed a large scale act of aggression. This is dangerous for our very existence,” Dmitry Medvedev (Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council), wrote via his messaging app channel.
“I believe NATO will avoid direct meddling in conflict.”
The United States dismissed the Kremlin’s nuclear talk as scare tactics.