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Referendums to annex territories to Russia have begun, why are they illegal? | news today

A motorcyclist waves a Russian flag as he attends a rally in support of the referendum to join the Russian Federation in Luhansk, Ukraine,


Authorities loyal to Moscow in the occupied regions of Ukraine began Friday referendums on annexation to Russia, considered illegal by kyiv and its Western allies. The international community has been emphatic in stating that it will not recognize its results.

These referendums add tension to a week marked by the mobilization of 300,000 reservists announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also threatened to use his nuclear arsenal to protect his territory.

How will the annexation referendums to Russia work?

The votes held in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk and in the southern ones of Kherson and Zaporizhia began at 05:00 GMT (1:00 am, Colombian time), Russian news agencies indicated, and will last five days.

The authorities plan to go door to door for four days to get votes. Polling stations will then open on Tuesday for residents to cast their ballots on the last day of voting. In Moscow you can also vote in a building where the representation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk region is located.

Leonid, a 59-year-old military man, told AFP that he went to vote “feeling happy.” “Ultimately, things are moving towards the restoration of the Soviet Union. The referendum is a step towards it,” he stated.

On Friday, the Russian news agency TASS showed footage of officials in the courtyards of Donetsk buildings notifying residents over loudspeakers that voting had begun.

Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian separatist leader from the Donetsk region, part of the Donbas industrial region, said in a Telegram message that “Donbas is Russia.” “The voice of each one of you will confirm the truth,” he assured.

The reason why these referendums are considered illegal is because, like the referendum held in Crimea in 2014, there are no campaigns for each option, freedom to decide or international accompaniment.

“When one makes a vote of this type there has to be a period of campaigns for and against, you must have the freedom to express yourself to meet the minimum standards, and that is not there. It will be a facade, a mockery as always, but it will use this as an excuse to incorporate these territories into Russia. Thus, this will transform the character of war,” says Professor Vladimir Rouvinski, an expert in international relations.

We recommend: 300,000 Russian soldiers ready to fight, would Ukraine resist an escalation?

A “farce”: what does annexation to Russia mean?

A hypothetical integration in Russia of these four regions, which observers take for granted, would imply that Moscow, following its doctrine, could use its atomic weapons to defend them from the counteroffensive launched by Ukraine in the east and south of the country.

“We cannot let President Putin get away with it,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a UN Security Council meeting, accusing Putin of “adding fuel to the fire.”

The referendums recall what happened in 2014 in the Crimean peninsula, annexed to Russia after a vote considered fraudulent by Western capitals. This week, after these votes were called on Tuesday, Western leaders denounced their illegitimate nature. At the UN, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the accusations and blamed the “Nazi totalitarian state” in kyiv for the situation, accusing it of “Russophobia.”

For its part, the UN commission of inquiry into Ukraine said Friday that “war crimes were committed” in the country, after having visited 27 cities and towns and questioned more than 150 victims and witnesses.

In the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, recognized as independent nations by Moscow just before the invasion, residents will have to answer if they support “entry into Russia,” according to the Russian agency TASS.

In Kherson and Zaporizhia, in the south, the ballots include the question: “Are you in favor of Ukraine’s secession, the formation of an independent state and its joining the Russian Federation as a member of the Russian Federation?”

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky called the referendums a “farce” and thanked his Western allies for condemning “another Russian lie” in a video released Thursday.

A hypothetical annexation would mean a further escalation in the conflict, especially after Putin said that he would protect the Russian territory with “all means”. The former president and current number two of the country’s Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, pointed out that this implied the use of “strategic nuclear weapons”.

Moscow began its mandatory call-up on Thursday after Putin called up some 300,000 reservists to bolster the war effort. The Russian military said at least 10,000 people had volunteered to fight within 24 hours of Putin’s order.

But many men were also leaving Russia en masse before they were forced to enlist, especially for former Soviet republics that grant visa-free entry.

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Source: Elespectador

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