Despite the sham referendums held by Russian occupiers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced the recapture of affected areas of his country. "This farce in the occupied territories cannot even be described as an imitation of referendums," said Zelenskyy in his video address. "We move forward and liberate our country!"
Shortly before, the occupation administrations deployed by Moscow in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as in Cherson and Zaporizhia in the south, had said that the people there had allegedly voted in favor of joining Russia, some with more than 99 percent approval.
In a video address to the UN Security Council, Zelenskyy said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin: "Annexion is the kind of action that puts it alone against all of humanity. A clear signal is now needed from every country in the world ."
Occupiers speak of a high level of approval
After counting all the votes, 99.2 percent of the voters in Donetsk agreed, said the occupation administration there. According to Russian information, it was more than 98 percent in Luhansk, more than 93 percent in Zaporizhia and more than 87 percent in Cherson. Thus, an unprecedented annexation of the territories is likely to begin in the coming days.
The mock referendums, which have been held for a total of five days since last Friday amid widespread international protest, are not recognized worldwide because they were held in violation of Ukrainian and international laws and without minimum democratic standards. In the past few days, observers had pointed to numerous cases in which residents of the occupied territories had been forced to vote.
Russian upper house could soon decide on annexations
In a next step, it is expected that the occupation administrations deployed by Moscow will officially apply to Kremlin chief Putin for admission to Russian territory. Before the start of the sham referendum, Putin had emphasized that the areas would then be completely under the protection of the nuclear power Russia.
USA preparing UN resolution against sham referendums
The US is preparing a UN resolution against the Russian sham referendums. Ukraine's fight is also a fight for the values of democracy, said US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, at a session of the United Nations' most powerful body in New York. "Therefore, we will introduce a resolution condemning these sham referendums, urging member states not to recognize Ukraine's changed status, and obliging Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine."
A vote in the Security Council will almost certainly fail due to Russia's veto, but could allow conclusions to be drawn about the degree of Russia's isolation. After that, the resolution should go to the UN General Assembly with 193 member countries for a vote.
Scholz: "Putin lines up mistakes after mistakes"
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) reiterated that the sham votes in eastern Ukraine made no difference to Germany. "We will not accept the results of these sham referendums and will continue to support Ukraine with undiminished strength," Scholz told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (Wednesday). With a view to the partial mobilization of the Russian reservists ordered by Putin, Scholz also said: "Putin is lining up mistakes after mistakes". The Russian president "could end this war immediately by withdrawing his troops and then starting talks with Kyiv".
Gas transit through Ukraine: Russia threatens sanctions
In the dispute over the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, the state-owned company Gazprom threatened sanctions, including a delivery stop. Gazprom has been pumping less gas through the attacked country since May as part of the Russian war against Ukraine. Both sides hold each other responsible for the lower quantities. "Services not rendered by Ukraine should not and will not be paid," Gazprom said.
What will be important on Wednesday
After the conclusion of the sham referendums in Russian-occupied Ukrainian areas, the Kremlin is also likely to speak in Moscow. It is expected that Russia will soon annex the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Cherson and Zaporizhia after the referendums, which violate international law and the results of which are not recognized internationally.