After the end of the sham referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine this Tuesday, a rapid connection to Russia is imminent.
According to the organizers, a minimum turnout of 50 percent has been achieved in the occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. They are sham referendums because they are held without Ukraine's consent, under martial law and not according to democratic principles. There have also been reports of people being forced to vote.
At the beginning of the sham referendums on Friday, the Kremlin had already assumed a yes for accession to Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the process for including the regions could be quick.
The Kremlin acknowledged violations of partial mobilization in the face of numerous reports of coercion and violence when recruiting reservists. In eastern Siberia, a man shot the head of a conscription office. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is committed to further talks on a ceasefire zone around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia.
Organizers: Minimum participation reached in Kherson region
According to the organizers, more than half of those entitled to vote in all four Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine have now cast their votes. In the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, the minimum turnout of 50 percent is said to have been reached, according to the head of the electoral commission, Marina Zakharova, according to a report by the Russian state agency TASS.
Russia expects 80 to 90 percent of the people to agree to join its territory. The votes are internationally criticized as a breach of international law.
It is expected that Russian President Vladimir Putin could admit the areas into the Russian Federation as early as Friday. He had emphasized that Moscow would then treat attacks by Ukraine on the areas as attacks on its own territory and would defend itself with all means. The West is preparing new sanctions in response to the annexation.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said at the IAEA annual meeting in Vienna on Monday that he was ready to hold talks with Russia and Ukraine this week on a ceasefire zone around Ukraine's Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. He warned: "If something happens there, we will not be able to blame any natural disaster, only our own inaction." Last week, on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York, Grossi began negotiations with representatives of Russia and Ukraine. Representatives of both countries once again blamed the other country for attacks on Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
Kremlin spokesman: No decision yet on declaring martial law
In order to avoid being called up for the war in Ukraine, tens of thousands of men fled Russia recently. There are reports of coercion and violence in recruitment. According to a report by the Interfax agency, Kremlin spokesman Peskov has now admitted violations of partial mobilization. "In fact, there are cases in which the decree is violated," Peskov said. "We hope that the pace of elimination will increase and that any errors will be corrected."
At the same time, Peskov emphasized that the Russian leadership had not yet made any decision on the introduction of martial law: "There are no decisions on this at the moment." If martial law were introduced, able-bodied men would no longer be allowed to leave Russia.
Incident in Eastern Siberia
In parts of Russia there had recently been resistance to conscription. In the eastern Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk in the Irkutsk region, a reservist shot the head of a draft office. This was announced by the governor of the region, Igor Kobsev, on Telegram on Monday. The condition of the "military commissar" is critical, said Kobsev. "The doctors are fighting for his life." The 25-year-old shooter, who was to be drafted into military service in Ukraine, was arrested. Since the partial mobilization ordered by Putin last Wednesday, there have been numerous protests, arrests and incidents across the country.
Kremlin spokesman: Elections in Italy purely internal matter
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment further on the parliamentary elections in Italy on Monday. This is a "purely internal matter". However, Russia welcomes all political forces "that are able to leave the framework of the established mainstream, which is characterized by hatred of Russia, and show more objectivity and constructiveness in relations with our country," Peskov said after a report the agency Interfax.
Election winner Giorgia Meloni is considered pro-Western in foreign policy and a supporter of NATO. She emphasizes her support for Russia's attacked Ukraine. However, their alliance also includes forces that have expressed themselves as pro-Russian. Above all, Russia relies on those politicians in the EU who are campaigning for an end to Western sanctions against Moscow.