Parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson, the four Ukrainian regions which are occupied by Russian or pro-Russian forces to varying degrees, have held referendums on the prospect of formally joining the Russian Federation.
Separatist leaders and pro-Russian local administrations see results in favor of annexation as a foregone conclusion of the Moscow-engineered referendums which run counter to international law and have been widely condemned by the West as illegitimate.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that territories currently holding so-called referendums on joining Russia can become part of the Russian Federation quite soon if the regions announce majorities in favor of joining Russia.
Peskov explained that, for that to happen, there’s a whole range of procedures and certain decisions of the Russian parliament and president will be required as well as the signing of the necessary documents.
Once those territories officially join Russia, Russian law will apply there which would mean that any attempt of Kyiv to regain the territories would be regarded as an attack on Russian territory.
As per Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of Ukraine’s president, today’s so-called referendums in the occupied territories are just propaganda show for z-conscription. He reiterated Ukraine’s position that territories under Russian control in occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia need an immediate release.
Al Jazeera reported that it’s very difficult to determine how the votes are panning out since media isn’t allowed in occupied territories but explained that referendums are happening in different ways depending on the region.
Russian media reported that in Kherson, people will go around houses with ballot boxes so that everyone can stay safe indoors to vote due to the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Ukrainian officials in occupied areas accused pro-Russian forces of using coercive tactics in referendums on secession. The adviser to Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor, Petro Andriushchenko, pointed out that the main means of coercion for voting is door-to-door canvassing.