The faithful authorities Moscow in the occupied regions of Ukraine started this friday Russian annexation referendumsconsidered illegal by Kyiv and its Western allies they won’t recognize their results.
The votes held in the eastern regions of Donetsk Y Lugansk and in the southern Kherson Y Zaporizhzhia began at 5 a.m. local time, Russian news agencies said, and will last five days.
These referendums add tension to a week marked by the mobilization of 300,000 reservists announced by the Russian president Vladimir Putinthat also threatened to use its nuclear arsenal to protect its territory.
A hypothetical integration Russia of these four regions, which observers take for granted, would imply that Moscowfollowing his doctrine, could use its atomic weapons to defend them of the counteroffensive launched by Ukraine in the east and south of the country.
“We cannot let President Putin get away with it,” he told a meeting of the UN Security Council US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenaccusing Putin of “adding fuel to the fire”.
“The international order that we are trying to save here is being destroyed before our eyes,” he added.
The referendums recall what happened in 2014 on the peninsula of crimeaattached to Russia after a vote deemed fraudulent by Western capitals.
This week, after the call for these votes on Tuesday, Western leaders denounced its illegitimate character.
At the UN, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovrejected the accusations and blamed the situation on “Nazi totalitarian state” of Kyiv.
“There is an attempt to impute to us a completely different narrative about Russian aggression as the origin of this tragedy,” he said.
In the eastern regions of Donetsk Y Luganskrecognized as independent nations by Moscow just before the invasion, the residents will have to respond if they support “entry to Russia”, according to the agency TASS.
In Kherson Y Zaporizhzhiain the south, the ballots include the question: “Are you in favor of the secession of Ukraine, the formation of an independent state and its joining the Russian Federation as a member of the Russian Federation?”.
The process will be private. The authorities will collect votes door by door the first four days of the referendum and only on the last day, Tuesday, will the polling stations open.
Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the self-proclaimed republic of Lugansksaid that he had been waiting for this vote since 2014, when the pro-Russian rebellion began in this region and the neighboring Donetsk.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky called the referendums “farce” and thanked his Western allies for condemning “another russian lie” in a video posted Thursday.
A hypothetical annexation would mean a further escalation in the conflictespecially after Putin said that he would protect Russian territory with “all means”.
The former president and current number two of the country’s Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, noted that this involved the use of “strategic nuclear weapons”.
At the same time, Russia began the mobilization of its reservists announced by Putin after major setbacks this month in the face of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
The Russian army indicated that at least 10,000 people volunteered within 24 hours of the announcementwhich also provoked demonstrations in several cities that resulted in more than 1,300 arrests.
Several media reported an avalanche of people who tried to leave the country.
Flights to neighboring nations, especially the former Soviet republics that offer visa-free entry to Russians, are nearly full and prices skyrocketing.
“I don’t want to die in this senseless war. It is a fratricidal war,” he assured. Dmitria 45-year-old man with a small suitcase interviewed at the airport in Yerevan, the capital of nearby Armenia.
Most of the passengers on the last flight between Moscow and Yerevan were made up of service-age men, many of them reluctant to speak.
Looking lost and exhausted, Sergei, 44, admits to having escaped possible recruitment with his son Nikolai, 17.
“The situation in Russia made me decide to leave. Yes, we left Russia because of the mobilization,” she stated.
(With information from AFP)
The EU agreed another package of sanctions against Russia after Putin’s nuclear threat and the mobilization of reservists
Russians run out of tickets to flee Putin’s mobilization order: “They buy no matter where they fly”
Liz Truss and Joe Biden condemned the mobilization ordered by Putin and agreed to continue their support for Ukraine