Russia will begin on Friday its plan to annex about 15% of Ukrainian territory by referendum in four regions controlled by Russian forces, a move the West says is a gross violation of international law that significantly aggravates the war.
After nearly seven months of war and a major battlefield defeat in northeastern Ukraine earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin explicitly supported referendums after Russian-controlled regions lined up to demand quick votes. to join Russia.
The self-styled People’s Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR), which Putin recognized as independent shortly before the invasion, and the administrations installed by Russia in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions will be held to vote.
The votes, which according to the West and Ukraine are a farce, will begin on Friday and end on Tuesday, with results expected shortly thereafter.
Russia will formally annex the areas after the results.
“The Kremlin is organizing a bogus referendum to try to annex parts of Ukraine,” US President Joe Biden said at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
“Ukraine has the same rights as any sovereign nation. We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine,” said Biden, who defined the war as part of a global competition between democracy and autocracy.
Ukraine, whose post-Soviet borders were recognized by Russia under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, says it will never accept Russian control over any of its territories and will fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled.
Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since 1999, said Russia will never abandon those in the regions it controls and who, according to him, want to separate from Kiev.
It sees the war both as a battle to save Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine from persecution and as a way to foil what it says is a Western plot to destroy Russia. Ukraine denies that Russian speakers have been persecuted.
In a nuclear warning to the West, Putin said he will defend Russian territory – and these regions of Ukraine will shortly be considered Russian territory by Moscow – with all means at his disposal.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and is posted by a syndicated feed.)