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Russia’s bid to merge parts of Ukraine with fake votes ‘does not’


A Ukrainian soldier rides on a car after drawing water from a community well at the liberated village of Troitske, Kharkiv region, on September 18, 2022.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | beautiful pictures

Ukrainian officials have rejected plans for Russian-occupied regions to hold a referendum on whether to join the Russian Federation, saying the move “will inevitably fail”, while other Analysts see the vote as an escalation by Moscow as Kyiv’s counterattack continues.

Russian proxies and leaders installed in the occupied regions of the country made a series of announcements on Tuesday, calling for an immediate vote on Russia’s participation.

Those announcements came first Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered “partial mobilization” which included military reserves called into active service and increased government funding for weapons production.

The referendum, scheduled for next weekend, will be held in the two self-proclaimed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in the eastern Donbas region as well as the occupied regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

The votes – whose results were supposed to be rigged and in favor of becoming part of Russia – were seen by many as a way for Russia to annex more parts of Ukraine and could justify doing so. “protect” what they can claim. “Russian territory”, although most of the international community would not recognize the legitimacy of the votes or the results.

Needless to say, Russia’s latest attempts to annex more parts of Ukraine and try to create legitimacy for such an act by holding referendums to do so. , was met with international condemnation, starting with Kyiv.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the “loud news” and announcements related to the referendum, saying Ukraine had heard it all before.

“There’s pretty loud news coming out of Russia today. And there’s a lot of questions about it. But what really happened? What has been heard that we haven’t heard before,” he said in the post. his nightly speech, while Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called any. Offering a “fake” will not stop Ukraine from its goal of liberating its territories.

Recalling Kuleba’s views, Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told CNBC that such “fake” ballots “will inevitably fail” for a number of reasons.

“This is a desperate attempt to save face that they are trying to use to make up for the humiliation they have suffered on the battlefield as a result of the army’s counterattack,” he said. team Ukraine, both in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions” CNBC Tuesday.

“The second point is that, no matter what they do, this will not stop the Ukrainian military and this will not be recognized by any member of the international community.”

“The third, very important point is that the local population in the temporarily occupied territories – and we are seeing that now as we are occupying these territories – they do not support the They don’t support the aggressor “So these fake referendums are bound to fail, from whatever angle or aspect you look at it,” he said.

Why do the votes happen?

As the parallel votes were announced on Tuesday, analysts questioned whether Moscow might be about to announce a rally of the Russian people that would put Russia firmly on the brink of war and open its wings. the door to whether it was possible to send Russian men of combat age. to Ukraine.

That speculation emerged on Wednesday when Putin announced the partial mobilization of Russia’s military, while blaming the West for the war in Ukraine and saying Russia had “a lot of weapons to respond to” what it said. he said were threats from the West.

Putin’s latest move comes after the debate among pro-Putin politicians and commentators regarding mobilization has become more acrimonious in recent weeks with pressure on the Kremlin. The Kremlin aimed to add more weight (and personnel and weapons) behind the “special military operation” in Ukraine, especially after Kyiv succeeded in a blitzkrieg northeast in the Kharkiv region and south of the country in Kherson.

The counteroffensive in Kharkiv was particularly successful, with Ukrainian forces driving out almost all of the Russian troops from the area; in Kherson, the situation is more complicated as Russian forces entrenched deeper in and around the port city and the wider region, and in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 and where it also hosted a fake referendum to try to legitimize the merger.

On Wednesday, Mr Putin said that Russia supported the referendum and said the decision to move in part was “completely in line with the threats we face, which is to defend our homeland”. , sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensuring security for the people and people of the liberated territory.”

The upcoming votes will allow the Kremlin to claim, albeit falsely, that it is “defending” its own territory and citizens, and that will require more manpower.

Ukraine’s Western allies have confirmed the results of any vote would be deemed illegitimate.

The EU said any outcome could not be considered “freedom of the will of the people” in those regions while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked on Tuesday that “the referendum For example, the potential mobilization of additional forces is not a sign of the Contrast, it is a sign of weakness, it is a sign of Russia’s defeat.”

Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, called the referendum an insult to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said Biden, in his speech Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly, would deliver a “firm rebuke” to Russia for its war against Ukraine.

More fighting power

The UK’s Ministry of Defense’s latest intelligence update, released on Wednesday morning, says the urgency behind such votes could be attributed to Russia’s concerns “about an impending attack”. in Ukraine. [on occupied areas] and higher security expectations after officially becoming part of Russia. “

However, the ministry noted that Russian forces in Ukraine continue to experience personnel shortages and a vote in the Russian State Duma on Tuesday aimed to tighten Russia’s penal code around military service. – including increased penalties for desertion and other crimes committed under conditions of mobilization, martial law, armed conflict, and hostilities” – possibly to limit the number of times of refusal to fight, and is designed to relieve some of the immediate “stress” of personnel.

The ministry said: “The Russian civilian and military leadership has faced considerable pressure over the past two weeks. These new measures are most likely introduced due to public criticism and mark a step forward. next developments in Russia’s strategy”.

“Putin is taking greater political risks by undermining the hypothesis that Russia is not going to war or a national crisis in the hope of creating more combat power,” the ministry said.



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