Russia may announce ‘sham’ referenda this week to formalize control of occupied territories in Ukraine

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Last Updated on 3 months by Mukesh

A senior White House official indicated on Wednesday that Russia could start issuing referenda intended to formally establish its rule over the Ukrainian territory it captured this week. 

As per White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, the United States has heard “that Russian leadership has instructed officials to begin preparing to hold sham referenda” in Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and “particularly” Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. 

“These referenda could begin in a matter of days or weeks. In fact, we could see a Russian announcement of the first one or ones before the end of this week,” he added. 

“Since they obviously are having trouble achieving geographic gains inside Ukraine, they are trying to gain that through false political means,” he said.

Kirby asserted that there is little support among Ukrainians in such regions for Russian annexation.

“We expect Russia to try to manipulate the results of these referenda, to falsely claim that the Ukrainian people want to join Russia,” he said.

“It will be critical to call out and counter this disinformation in real-time,” he said.

In 2014, weeks after capturing control of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, Moscow sponsored a referendum that allegedly revealed the region’s residents preferred to join Russia. 

As per US intelligence, Russian authorities in the occupied territories are concerned that the local population won’t show up to vote, Kirby said. 

Kirby stated without going into further detail that the Russians are preparing “workarounds” to show success in order to cope with it.

“The Russian officials themselves know that what they’re doing will lack legitimacy, and it will not reflect the will of the people,” he said.

“The United States and the international community have been very clear that any attempts at controlling Ukraine’s sovereign territory will not be considered legitimate,” he said.

(with inputs from agencies)
 

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