Vladimir Putin’s Russia took a step closer towards the biggest military annexation of European territory since the Second World War by recognising two regions of war-torn Ukraine breakaway territories – after Moscow staged a series of fake referendums there and rigged the results at gunpoint.
The Kremlin dictator signed decrees recognising Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the country’s south and east as states independent of Kyiv – a precursor to his deranged plot to absorb around 15% of Ukrainian territory into the Russian Federation.
Putin’s annexation will take place at an official ceremony followed by planned celebratory concerts and rallies in Moscow’s Red Square, where the He is likely to share his opinion on why Ukraine doesn’t have an independent existence. And the occupied territory.
Stage-managed, the fake voting took place across Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as well as Donetsk (and Luhansk) over five days. This was all done to promote Russia joining. Ukrainians were even forced to submit their votes in the fraud elections by Kremlin soldiers.
The move will be approved by the Duma (the country’s puppet parliament), next week. The move is identical to Moscow’s 2014 fake referendum in Crimea, which was used as a pretext to seize the Ukrainian peninsula.
Kyiv stated however that the vote to annexe will not stop its armed forces from trying retake illegally stolen territory, and promised a “harsh” response. Russia, on the other hand, pledges that it will defend its entire territory, even newly annexed areas, using all means available, including nuclear weapons.
The staged referendums to decide whether Ukraine should live under Russian control were described by Western supporters of Ukraine as a fake land grab based on lies. According to them, some voters were forced onto the voting booth by gunpoint. This was despite there not being any independent observers.
Russia’s partial mobilization of troops and the allegations that it sabotaged two Russian natural gas pipelines located on the Baltic Seafloor, which were intended to supply Europe with natural gas, only add to tensions. Putin also acknowledged that the Kremlin has problems due to Ukraine’s successful recapturing of some of Russia’s land and issues with its mobilization.
Ukraine’s war has taken a more dangerous turn
- Valentyn Reznichenko, the local administrator said that rescuers had pulled out a 12-year-old girl from rubble following a Russian missile strike on Dnipro.
- Officials from Moscow in Ukraine’s Northeastern Kharkiv reported that around 30 were killed by the Ukrainian military when it shelled refugee convoys.
- According to Mayor Oleksandr Hinchenko, 11 people were hurt and property damaged in a Russian rocket attack against Kramatorsk. Kramatorsk is an eastern Donetsk town that Ukraine holds.
- Another concern was the increased fighting around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. While Russian forces are occupying the facility, it is being managed by Ukrainian engineers. The plant was damaged by a landmine explosion that occurred on its perimeter fence. This incident is likely to have been triggered wild animals.
Vladimir Putin preside over a meeting of the Security Council via video link from Moscow
Konstantin Ivashchenko is a former Azovmash plant CEO who was elected pro-Russian Mariupol Mayor. He visits a voting station to help people vote in the referendum.
The Red Square is a place where people prepare for concerts. There are constructions that read ”Donetsk. Luhansk. Zaporizhzhia. Kherson. Russia”. Moscow’s Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin Mausoleum are in the background.
At a Luhansk polling station, members of the Referendum Committee empty a ballotbox to begin counting them.
As Ukrainian forces continue their advance, Russian forces are surrounded in Lyman, eastern Donbas.
After voting at Donetsk’s referendum, members of the election commission count votes.
A man casts his ballot at a polling station during a referendum in the Donetsk People’s Republic
Red Square police officers are seen walking in front constructions that read ”Donetsk. Luhansk. Zaporizhzhia. Kherson. Russia”. The background shows the Basil’s Cathedral with Lenin Mausoleum.
An officer stands before the barrier blocking Red Square’s access with St Basil’s Cathedral behind him
Volodymyr Zilensky warns: ‘They are worthless, and don’t change reality. Ukraine’s territorial integrity will be restored. Our reaction to Russia’s results will be extremely harsh.
President Joe Biden pledged that the US will never recognise Russia’s claims on Ukraine’s sovereign territory, while United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that if Russia moves ahead with its plans to annex the four Ukrainian regions, it will mark a ‘dangerous escalation’.
Mario Draghi, outgoing Italian premier said that Italy will not recognise what he termed ‘illegal referenda’. Giorgia, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, is expected to become the next prime minister of the country in less than a month. Sources say she’ll also refuse to recognize the results.
Putin was under increasing pressure to show the skeptical Russian public that his invasion in Ukraine has yielded results.
Surprised by the decision to order the first mass conscription in Russia since World War Two (of at least 300,000. people), it caused a wave of Russians to flee across its borders.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated Thursday that Russia’s annexed would be a violation of the U.N. Charter. He also said it has no legal value. This was described by Guterres as a dangerous escalation and must not be taken in.
Guterres stated that Russia’s decision to move forward would further undermine the chances of peace.
Russia is a U.N. Security Council permanent member, with the ability to veto. Accordingly, the secretary general said that Russia has “a particular responsibility” for the UN Charter.
Stephane Dujarric (UN spokesman) said Guterres had conveyed this message to Vassily Nebenzia on Wednesday.
However, also strongly protested the European Union.
Jan Lipavsky (Czech Foreign Minister), who holds the presidency of the European Union, said that it was unacceptable. “We oppose such unilateral annexation that is based upon a completely falsified process without any legitimacy.”
Lipavsky defined the proRussia referendums in theater play and maintained that these regions were ‘Ukrainian territories’.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Bayern said that Russia’s actions are ‘the contrary of peace.
“As long the Russian diktat is in place in Ukraine’s occupied territories, there will be no citizens who are safe.” He said that no citizen was free.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, which is headquartered in Washington, stated that Ukrainian forces could soon surround Lyman 100 miles southeast of Kharkiv. This would represent a significant blow for Moscow’s war efforts.
The institute cited Russian reports to say that ‘the collapse of the Lyman pocket would likely be extremely consequential to the Russian grouping’ in the northern Donetsk or western Luhansk areas and “may allow Ukrainian soldiers to threaten Russian positions on the western Luhansk region.”
Russian forces force Ukrainians to vote for bogus elections at gunpoint.
With armed Russian officers (right), election officials (left) and a clear vote box are permitted into an apartment block of the occupied Ukraine.
Russia’s partial mobilisation is chaotic, unpopular and has triggered protests and violence. Russian men tried to escape the country in long, drawn-out lines. Moscow opened draft offices along its borders to help some fleeing Russians.
Putin said to Russia’s Security Council that the mobilization had not gone according to plan, in an apparent attempt at calming the people in the face domestic criticism and confusion. According to Putin, Russians should not have been mistakenly called up and should return home. Only reservists who are properly trained and possess specialties should be allowed to serve.
There have been multiple reports of Russian soldiers being forced into service, as well as reservists receiving inadequate training.
British military intelligence stated that the Russian army-age men who fled are likely to exceed the force Moscow used in the invasion of Ukraine in February. They also claimed many of the people fleeing were well educated and causing a “brain drain.”
One of Russia’s last exit routes was blocked by Finland. The country has banned Russians with tourist visas entering Finland starting Friday. Except for Norway which only has one crossing with Russia’s border, Finland is the most accessible land route available to Russian Schengen visa holders. This allows them free movement throughout much of Europe.
Peskov stated Thursday that it looked like a terrorist attack at the state level, regarding this week’s sabotage of Russian gas pipelines.
He said that it was a dangerous situation and required a rapid investigation.
NATO warned that it will retaliate against any attack on its critical infrastructure in 30 member states. On Thursday, NATO joined Western officials who cited sabotage to blame for the damage to the pipeline.