Local officials backed by the Kremlin will today begin holding “referendums” in four Ukrainian territories occupied by its troops to give grounds for President Vladimir Putin to absorb up to 15% of Ukraine into Russia.

The staged votes are taking place despite intense criticism from the West and a cool reception of the plan from Russia’s friends and allies.

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Two areas that Putin recognised as independent before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the self-styled Donetsk and the Luhansk People’s Republics, as well as Russian-installed administrations in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, are holding snap votes on whether to join Russia or remain as part of Ukraine.

Voting will begin today and end on Tuesday next week, according to Russian state-owned news agency Tass, with results expected immediately afterwards. Just as it did with Crimea in 2014, Russia intends formally to annex the areas in the aftermath of the results, which are widely expected to be pro-Russia.

How has the world reacted to the votes?

With his address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden “cast the war as part of a global contest between democracy and autocracy”, Reuters said, calling the votes in the four Ukrainian regions a “sham”, and insisting that “Ukraine has the same rights that belong to every sovereign nation”.

“We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine,” Biden added. 

Even Russia’s friends and allies have expressed uncertainty about the vote, and the trajectory of the war in general. Turkey, which has previously sought to play a mediating role in the conflict, has condemned the vote as illegitimate.

And Putin admitted at a summit in Uzbekistan last week that Xi Jinping, president of China, …read more

Source:: The Week – All news


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