Russia organizes ‘votes’ to annex occupied Ukraine land… ‘Support is overwhelming’

Russia began to organizevotes” to decide on the annexation approximately the fifth part of Ukraine, which it occupies after the invasion that began in February of this year.

Russian state media reported a overwhelming support to the accession to Russia in the four regions that his troops partially control, according to an opinion poll published this week. In Moscow, officials promised to act quickly to finalize the absorption of the territories.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterresdescribed the vote as a “violation of the UN Charter and international law”.

The Kremlin ordered the “referendums” this week after his army suffered its worst defeat to the armed forces of Ukraine from the first weeks of their seven-month invasion. Putin this week ordered a “partial mobilization“, calling to 300 thousand reservists and reiterated threats that he is ready to use all the Russia’s military arsenal to protect its “territorial integrity”.

‘Burying’ the negotiations

Western officials denounced the threats as irresponsible and described the voting and the mobilization as Kremlin signs of despair.

Given this, the US promised to continue with “financial and military support” to kyiv, which continues in its counteroffensive to regain more territory from Russia.

Russia is burying the prospects of negotiations with its own hands”, Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelensky said in a speech on Thursday night. Peace talks have been dying for months.

Despite UN condemnation, Russian officials defended the votes, indicating that they were in line with international law. The country held a similar hasty referendum in Crimea in 2014after it occupied that Ukrainian peninsula, but only a small number of countries have followed Moscow’s lead in acknowledging the results.

Russian troops do not fully control the territory of any of the four regions where the votes are held and in all of them battles are fought. The head of the self-styled People’s Republic of DonetskDenis Pushilin warned Thursday night that the security situation was drastically worsening in the north of the region as Ukrainian forces advanced, even as called on residents to vote.

The Kremlin’s representative leaders feigned little suspense over the outcome. Kirill Stremousov, a senior occupation official in Kherson, said: “A vast majority have decided their fate: life inside Russia”, in a video speech on Telegram. Pushilin proclaimed: “We come back home!”

Election officials will go door-to-door to collect ballots in the coming days, and polling places are scheduled to open until voting concludes on September 27 in parts of the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia Y Kherson.

‘Point of No Return’

The Kremlin is also distributing hundreds of thousands of ballots inside Russia for displaced people from the regions. In addition, authorities have said that will use electronic voting.

We have reached the point of no return with these referendums”, said Alexei Chesnakov, a former senior Kremlin official and adviser on Ukraine policy. “It’s impossible to go back. Putin is showing the West that he is ready to go all the way.”

The mobilization of 300,000 reservists, which has caused an avalanche of men facing compulsory military service leave the countryis not enough to change the balance of forces and will only stop the Ukrainian advance, say Russian military experts. Moscow forces have been affected by low morale and equipment shortages.

The Kremlin relies on power outages during the winter to put pressure on europe to make kyiv ask for peacebut support for Ukraine has only grown stronger since battlefield victories and Russia’s escalation in response.

Neither side in the conflict is ready to back down, raising the risk that tensions will escalate. get out of controlsaid Alexander Baunov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Russia knows that it is losing“, said. “If you lose, you either look for a reasonable way out or you can threaten to go further and further.”

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