The Russian electoral commission said on Tuesday that the “yes” was imposed in the “referendums” on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, based on preliminary results from voting centers on Russian territory, according to Russian agencies.
The commission stated that the “yes” vote obtained between 97 and 98% of the votes after the counting of between 20 and 27% of the ballots in the polling stations in Russia, while the counting began in the Ukrainian regions under control of Moscow, indicated the Ria Novosti, Tass and Interfax agencies.
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The electoral commission had opened polling stations on Russian territory for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who took refuge in Russia to escape the fighting in Ukraine.
The four Ukrainian regions concerned by the Russian annexation referendums are Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, under Moscow control.
Addressing the Russian press, the head of the occupying administration of Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, already claimed the victory of the “yes” in this vote organized since September 23, in the presence of Russian troops and despite the bombing.
“It is clear that an overwhelming majority of people have supported Ukraine’s exit and union with Russia,” Saldo said, referring to the area under his control.
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For his part, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, minimized the value of these referendums.
“Nothing will change in our policy, our diplomacy or our actions in the military field,” the minister told a news conference in kyiv together with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna.
In Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, electoral offices were also opened for refugees from the Donetsk region, partially controlled by Moscow and its pro-Russian separatist allies.
“With my vote I want to try to make a small contribution to the end of the war,” Galina Korsakova, 63, told AFP. “I really want to go back to my house,” she added.
Russia says ready for annexation
For his part, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said Tuesday that the Russian legal system and the executive branch are ready for the annexation of the Ukrainian territories controlled by Russia after the referendums. “Our legislators, our executive branches and our legal departments are ready,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin added that the salvation of the inhabitants of Donbas and other Ukrainian territories occupied by the Russian Army is Russia’s priority, amid the referendums.
“Today, in the conditions of the special military operation and the referendums in Donbas, the salvation of the people of all those territories in which this referendum is being held, is the cornerstone and is in the focus of our entire society. , from all over the country,” he said during a meeting with government representatives.
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The salvation of the people of all those territories in which this referendum is being held is the cornerstone
For now, the Russian Federation Council or Senate plans to discuss the annexation of the four Ukrainian territories controlled by the Russian Army on October 4, according to the Senate president, Valentina Matviyenko, on Tuesday.
“I believe that between tomorrow and the day after, in the next few days, the results of the referendums will be ready. We are ready, for now I do not see the need to hold extraordinary meetings. The planned meeting is on October 4,” he told the press.
Matviyenko noted that on that date, “if everything is confirmed and everything goes well, we will be ready to discuss” the matter. “We will respect the will of the people of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions. If their will is to be a part of Russia, we will support it,” he added.
NATO and EU respond to referendums
Referendums continue to generate rejection from the international community. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, said on Tuesday that the referendums on the annexation to Russia of four regions in the south and east of Ukraine are a “farce” and a “flagrant violation of international law”.
Stoltenberg tweeted that he had just spoken with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky to “make it clear that NATO allies are not giving up on [su] support for the sovereignty of Ukraine and its right to self-defense”.
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The European Union (EU), for its part, considers that the annexation referendums organized by Russia in Ukraine are “illegal” and “illegitimate”, and the people who acted in their organization will be subject to sanctions, the spokesman for the head of European diplomacy.
“There will be consequences for all the people who participated in the organization of these illegal referendums and who supported them,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, who added that “the sanctions are a decision of the Member States” of the block.
*With information from AFP and EFE
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