Eight years ago, Crimea went to the vote. At that time, the Russian troops were already stationed on the peninsula. and Ukraine’s independence had been unilaterally proclaimed. The referendum served to formalize the request of Crimea, inhabited mostly by ethnic Russians, and the city of Sevastopol to join the Russian Federation, leaving Ukraine. The results? More than 90% of voters answered “yes” to the question, in a referendum considered illegal by the United Nations. Now, the circumstances are repeated and multiplied by four points of a piece of territory in the southeastern region of the country.
Seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine, between September 23 and 27 there will be referendums in the occupied territories from Donetsk and Lugansk (which together form the Donbass), Zaporizhia and Kherson. The first results should be known on September 28, according to local press. The referendums will be illegal, there is no doubt about that for the main world leaders, but for Vladimir Putin it will matter little, just as it did not matter in Crimea in 2014.
With no chance that the referendums will be accepted by the international community, why does the Russian president want the annexation of those regions? The answer is divided into several parts: for consumption (and an attempt to defuse tensions internally), to justify the Kremlin narrative, to accuse Ukraine of invading Russia (as Dimitri Medvedev, former Russian president, has already assumed) and to be able to mobilize the Ukrainians for the Moscow army.
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