© Reuters A member of the service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic stands guard at a polling station ahead of a planned referendum on the accession of the Donetsk People’s Republic to Russia on September 22, 2022 in Donetsk, Ukraine.
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LONDON (Reuters) – Voting began on Friday on President Vladimir Putin’s plan to launch a plan that would greatly escalate the war and violate international law.
After nearly seven months of fighting that has killed tens of thousands and left some of Ukraine’s eastern cities empty, Putin has signaled he would annex the regions if people in Russian-controlled areas vote to join Russia.
The election, which the West and Ukraine call a sham military occupation, began on Friday and will conclude on Tuesday, with results expected shortly.
Voting is taking place in the self-proclaimed Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR) and the Russian-controlled regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia before Putin invaded.
“We have all been waiting eight years for a referendum to join Russia,” said Leonid Pasechnyk, the Russian-backed leader of Luhansk. “We have already become part of Russia. Only a small matter remains – to win (the war).”
“We are going home,” said Denis Pushilin, the Russian-backed leader of Donetsk. Donbas is Russia.
In the year With the rapidly choreographed legal annexation of Crimea in 2014 that took just days, results in favor of Russian annexation are almost certain.
As voting began, Ivan Fedorov, the ousted mayor of Melitopol, Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region, which is part of the Zaporizhia region, said a loud explosion was heard in the city center at 7am.
“People are afraid to leave their homes,” Fedorov said.
In the year Although Russia recognized Ukraine’s post-Soviet borders in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Putin considers the territories of eastern and southern Ukraine to be Russian property lost due to the mistakes of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Khrushchev.
Ukraine says Russia will never cede any of its territory and will fight until the last Russian soldier is removed.
US President Joe Biden said at the 77th UN General Assembly: “The Kremlin is organizing a fake referendum to join part of Ukraine.”
“Ukraine has rights that belong to every sovereign nation. We stand together with Ukraine,” said Biden, who cast the war as part of a global rivalry between democracy and autocracy.
In the year Putin, who has been Russia’s leader since 1999, said this week that Russia would never abandon the separatist regions of Ukraine under its control because they would be killed by “killers”.
He described the war as a war to save Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine from persecution and to thwart a Western conspiracy to destroy Russia. Ukraine denies persecution of Russian speakers.
In a direct nuclear warning to the West, Putin said he would defend Russia’s territory with all its might.
It is not clear how exactly the voice works in a war zone where many people have been displaced. Russia controls most of Luhansk and Kherson, 66% of Zaporizhia and only 60% of Donetsk. The struggle continues in all the four regions.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said Russian-installed officials in the regions were setting targets for invented voter turnout and voter turnout, which some turnouts had already agreed to.
Ukraine’s conflict began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was ousted in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and after Russia annexed Crimea, Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass – which includes Donetsk and Luhansk – sought to break free from Kiev’s control. .
After Russian forces took control of Crimea, which has a majority of ethnic Russians and was transferred to Ukraine during the Soviet era, in 2010
Crimean leaders voted 97% to secede from Ukraine. Russia officially annexed Crimea on March 21. Kiev and the West say the referendum violates Ukraine’s constitution and international law.