Both Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, have announced they will be holding a vote on whether to become part of Russia. RT’s Murad Gazdiev brings us the latest developments.
Officials in four Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine have said they will hold referendums on becoming part of Russia, which could set the stage for Moscow to escalate its seven month old war.
The officials said the votes would start in just a few days time – on September 23 – and continue until September 27.
Ukraine dismissed the plan as a stunt by Russia to try to reclaim the initiative after crushing losses on the battlefield.
“Sham ‘referendums’ will not change anything,” tweeted Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.”
Votes will take place in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics of the Donbas region, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent shortly before sending troops into Ukraine in February, according to officials and news agencies.
A vote will also be held in the southern Kherson region that Moscow’s troops captured in the early days of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, and in the partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhia region.
Russia does not fully control any of the four regions, with only about 60 percent of Donetsk region in Russian hands
Letter from DPR’s Denis Pushilin to Putin
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!
In the event of a positive decision following the referendum, which we have no doubts about, I ask you to consider the issue of the Donetsk People’s Republic joining the Russian Federation as soon as possible. The long-suffering people of Donbass deserved to be part of the Great Country, which they always considered their Motherland.
This event will be the restoration of historical justice, the approach of which millions of Russian people crave.
Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic
Damage from shelling damages Zaporozhia NPP
A special building, a cooling system and a canteen on the territory of the Zaporizhia NPP (ZAES), where employees were located, were damaged after shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). This was stated in the military-civil administration (CAA) of Energodar on Tuesday, September 20.
“As a result of provocative attacks by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, a number of infrastructure damages were recorded on the territory of the Zaporizhia NPP. Damage was received: a special building, a cooling system, as well as a dining room, where employees of the station were located at the time of the attack, ” the Telegram channel said.
According to the CAA Energodar, no one was injured.
“Against the background of the decree of the head of the Zaporozhye Regional State Administration on holding a referendum in the liberated territories, the Kiev authorities understand that their attempts to seize the liberated Zaporozhye are doomed to failure, thereby switching to the thinking “so don’t get it to anyone,” ” the department noted.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Zaporizhia region reported 11 artillery strikes by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the coastline near the Zapad NPP. Emergency services did not receive reports of injuries.
On the eve of the head of the Energodar administration, Alexander Volga, said that the Ukrainian military had been shelling the city for several days in a row, despite the presence of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the NPP.
On September 17, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov announced the resumption of provocations around the nuclear power plant.
The object was repeatedly attacked. On September 6, the IAEA summed up the results of a five-day mission to the ZAES. As a result, a report was publishedconfirming the presence of damage at the station.