Wednesday 21 September 2022 - 10:02

Four Ukrainian Regions to Hold Referendums on Joining Russia

Story Code : 1015472
Four Ukrainian Regions to Hold Referendums on Joining Russia
Speaking on Tuesday, the pro-Russian leaders of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the southern region of Kherson, and the southeastern region of Zaporozhye announced that they were to hold the votes as soon as Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Also in 2014, Donetsk and Lugansk, which together form the Donbass region, broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.

Back in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the two regions as independent republics.

Later that month, Russia launched "a special military operation" aimed at “demilitarizing” Donbass. Announcing the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”

The operation then expanded to involve Kherson and Zaporozhye amid the United States' and its allies' incessant arming of the Ukrainian military.

Announcing the pending referendum, Donetsk's pro-Russian leader Denis Pushilin said the vote would “restore historic justice" to the territory's “long-suffering people." They “have earned the right to be part of the great country that they always considered their motherland,” he added.

In Zaporozhye, pro-Russia activist Vladimir Rogov said, “The faster we become part of Russia, the sooner peace will come.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the current deputy head of Russia’s Security Council that is chaired by Putin, meanwhile, said referendums that fold regions into Russia itself would make redrawn frontiers “irreversible” and enable Moscow to use “any means” to defend them.

Anyone attacking them would be assaulting Russia itself, which would be entitled to respond in self-defense.

"Encroachment onto Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self-defense," Medvedev said. "This is why these referendums are so feared in Kiev and the West."

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also dismissed reports circulating across the Western media that the referendums were being forced onto the Ukrainian regions.

It was up to the people living in the foursome regions if they wanted to hold referendums on joining Russia, Lavrov added.

"From the very beginning ... we've been saying that the peoples of the respective territories should decide their fate," Lavrov told state TV.