Kremlin says four Ukrainian provinces may soon join Russia

The Kremlin spokesman said that if residents of four Ukrainian provinces support joining Russia, the process “will happen quite quickly”.

At a press conference on September 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the process of joining Russia of the self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass region and two other Ukrainian provinces “will happen quite quickly” if the population here vote in favor of this move.

Peskov did not specify how long the process of annexing the Russian-controlled areas in the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson would take.

Asked about the procedure for joining Russia, Mr. Peskov said this “will certainly require decisions of the Russian parliament and the President of Russia, as well as the signing of the necessary documents”. “There will be a series of procedures and everything will be done on time according to the existing law,” Peskov said.





People vote in a referendum on the annexation of territory to Russia at a polling station in Donetsk region, Ukraine September 23.  Photo: RIA Novosti.

People vote in a referendum on the annexation of territory to Russia at a polling station in Donetsk region, Ukraine September 23. Image: RIA Novosti.

The Kremlin spokesman said the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions will apply Russian law if the merger process is completed.

When asked if any attempt by Ukraine to retake the regions after the annexation would be seen by Russia as an attack on its territory, Peskov replied “of course”.

Ukraine has not commented on the Kremlin spokesman’s report.

Voting points on the referendum on Russia’s merger in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions began to open at 8:00 am (12:00 GMT) on September 23. Officials in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces, appointed by Russia, announced that 750,000 people would vote. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) representative said they had printed 1.5 million votes.

The two breakaway regions of the DPR and the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) in the Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, and the Russian-controlled area of ​​Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces held a referendum on the desire to annex the territory in Russia September 23-27.

The Russian-controlled regional government in the southern province of Mykolaiv announced it was annexing the neighboring Kherson province, thus also voting.

Security is tight in the four breakaway regions because they fear ambushes from the Ukrainian army. Officials in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia said local police and Russian military personnel would be present at polling stations.





4 regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson of Ukraine.  Graphics: DW.

4 regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson of Ukraine. Graphics: DW.

Ukraine’s government has criticized these referendums as staged referendums, stressing they will not change national sovereignty and that the military “has every right to liberate territories and will continue to do so.” . Ukraine also believes that the referendums will destroy the chances of peace talks with Russia.

Western countries, including the US, as well as the NATO military alliance, vehemently criticized the plan and said they would not recognize the results. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that “fake referendums are an affront to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity that are the foundation of the international system”.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that annexation to Russia is a matter for the people of the Ukrainian provinces to decide for themselves. Many senior Russian officials have expressed support for this operation.

Russia controls most of Lugansk, Kherson, 73% of Zaporizhzhia and 60% of Donetsk. As of January, about 1.4 million people live in Lugansk, 2.2 million in Donetsk, more than a million in Kherson and 1.6 million in Zaporizhzhia. After the war broke out, many people evacuated to other parts of the country and abroad.

Nguyen Tien (Theo TASS, CNN)

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