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What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine: Report 23Sep 2022

What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine, Russian-backed officials in Ukraine's four occupied territories are holding self-styled....

What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine

Russian-backed officials in Ukraine’s four occupied territories are holding self-styled referendums on joining Russia.

Rejected as illegitimate and a sham by Ukraine and the West, these so-called votes are taking place over five days, while all four regions – two in the East and two in the South – are on the front lines.

A merger could allow Russia to claim that its territory is coming under attack from Western weapons supplied to Ukraine.

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This could escalate the war further.

What is happening now and why?
Seven months after the start of Russia’s invasion, Vladimir Putin is on the backfoot. Ukraine’s counter-offensive has recaptured the territory it had seized since the February 24 invasion.

There is a vote on one of three steps taken by the Kremlin in an effort to restart the war.

By occupying another 15% of sovereign Ukraine, Russia would be able to claim that its territory is being attacked with weapons provided to Ukraine by NATO and other Western countries. Calling 300,000 additional troops, it could defend a front line of 1,000 km (620 mi). The Kremlin has also declared a crime to go on leave without leave, to surrender and to be absent during mobilization.

If Russia’s leader in occupying the region sounds familiar, it is. When he ordered troops to annex Crimea in 2014, he followed it up with a vote rejected by the international community as an illegitimate sham.

This latest incident has also been declared illegal by several Western countries, including the international watchdog group, OSCE and the Russian media, having already said that the yes-vote is beyond doubt.

It is taking place over five days in two proxy regions in Russia’s east in Luhansk and Donetsk, and in the occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya in the south.

Also Read:- 4 Ukrainian regions set to vote this week to join Russia: Report 21Sep 2022

What makes these votes a sham?

We have already seen how Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014. While the Kremlin claimed 96.7% support, a leaked report by Russia’s Human Rights Council said only 30% had voted and barely half supported the merger.

Barely a shot was fired in Crimea, and yet this latest case is expected to be voted on in the middle of the war.

The four areas involved are either partially or fully occupied.

In the south, the city of Kherson is not yet a safe haven, with Russian troops struggling to stop a major Ukrainian counter-offensive. The Central Administration building was hit by a series of missiles only last week.

A secure vote is impossible, and yet officials speak of 750,000 people registered and planning to annex parts of another Ukrainian territory, Mykolaiv, into annexed territory.

Russian media reported that election officials would go door-to-door with portable ballot boxes from Friday to Monday.

Authorities operated the polling booths only on the fifth day, September 27, citing security reasons.

Hundreds of stations are set to open that day, with voters able to vote in areas outside their territory – and refugees only in parts of Russia eligible to vote.

What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine
What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine
Also Read:- Ukraine’s air force destroyed seven enemy positions on September 19: Report 20Sep 2022

Then there is the capital of Zaporizhzhya, which safely remains in Ukrainian hands, so any vote to annex that region is meaningless.

Donetsk in the east is only 60% under Russian occupation and is at the center of the conflict.

Russia controls most of Luhansk in the northeast, even though it has begun to lose ground. Russian news agencies showed that passengers were being given the headline “Russia is the future”.

Most of the pre-war population has fled the conflict. Denis Pushilin, the head of Russia’s proxy authority in Donetsk, ordered a mass evacuation a few days before the invasion.

Russian-backed leaders have been keen to vote for several months, but the decision to cast the vote was taken just three days ago and smacks of desperation.

There will be no independent observer. Most of the voting will take place online, though officials have promised extra security at polling stations.

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What does Russia want from the votes in occupied Ukraine

Also Read:- Russian army launches strikes in many parts of Ukraine: Report 19Sep 2022

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by News East India staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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