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From Referendums to Annexation, Russia's Action in 4 Ukrainian Regions Explained

Putin announced Russia's annexation of 4 regions in Ukraine in a Kremlin ceremony on Friday.

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Explainers
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From Referendums to Annexation, Russia's Action in 4 Ukrainian Regions Explained
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A few days after "referendums" held by pro-Russian authorities in four occupied regions of Ukraine reported huge majorities in favour of joining Russia, President Vladimir Putin on Friday, 30 September presided over a ceremony at the Kremlin to announce the referendum.

Speaking at the ceremony, Putin said:

"People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever."

Putin’s annexation announcement, made in a formal speech at the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall amid Ukraine and the United States universally dismissing the referendums as "a sham," adding that the polls do not abide by international law.

From Referendums to Annexation, Russia's Action in 4 Ukrainian Regions Explained

  1. 1. What Do We Know About the Referendums?

    Four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine voted over five days in a referendum to join Russia, according to their leaders. The polls do not abide by international law. The referendums were called by pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and in the Russia-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizbzhia in south Ukraine, which together make up about 15% of Ukrainian territory, Reuters reported.

    "Russia's referenda are a sham – a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter," US President Joe Biden said last week.

    Reports from the four regions suggested that voting was being done at gunpoint and the pro-Russian authorities were going door to door to collect votes, trailed by armed guards.

    "Rumours are being spread that people who vote against Russia are being taken away somewhere. This is deliberately done to intimidate the local population," Serhii Hayday, the Ukrainian head of Luhansk military administration told CNN.

    The head of the election commission in these parts of Ukraine declared the poll results on Tuesday, 27 September.

    • 98.54 percent votes were in favour of joining Russia in Luhansk where 91.2 percent of the votes were counted.

    • In Donetsk, 32 percent of the votes were counted out of which 93.95 percent were in favour of joining Russia.

    • 87.05 percent of the votes in Kherson were in favour of joining Russia

    • In Zaporizhzhia, the final tally was reportedly 93.11 percent in favour of joining Russia.

    This process was similar to when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. A referendum was organised, in which 97 percent of the votes were in favour of joining Russia.

    Expand
  2. 2. What Areas Has Russia Annexed? 

    Russia has annexed 15 percent of Ukraine that is controlled by its forces, along with another 3 percent of Ukraine, including the front lines where Ukrainian soldiers are stationed to fight, such as the Donetsk region.

    The areas include Donbas, which is a major part of eastern Ukraine and is populated with a high number of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Donbas includes Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), which Putin recognised as independent states right before the invasion took place in 24 February.

    The total annexed area is at least 90,000 square kilometres of Ukraine territory.

    Including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, at least one-fifth of Ukraine's territory is annexed by Moscow.

    As the polls ended on Tuesday, 27 September, a law to formally recognise the four areas as Russian territory were passed by the Kremlin on Thursday, 29 September.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Has Putin Said?

    Reuters quoted Putin at the ceremony, on Friday, 30 September, who said:

    "We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this ... But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them."

    Subsequently, Putin added that the annexation is a great liberation mission for Russia, which will now aim to rebuild "ruined settlements, housing, schools, hospitals, theatres, museums."

    "We will restore and develop industrial enterprises, factories, infrastructure, social, pension, healthcare and education systems," Putin said

    Expand
  4. 4. The Big Picture

    Putin had last week said that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend the "territorial integrity" of Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation issued a nuclear warning on 26 September, to Ukraine and the West.

    Expand
  5. 5. West's Response 

    Sanctions: The US on Friday imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia, targeting hundreds of people and companies, including those in Russia's military-industrial complex and lawmakers "for enabling Russia's sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory," Reuters reported.

    "We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor," US President Joe Biden said in a statement after Puting announced the annexation of Ukranian territory at a Kremlin ceremony.

    Fourteen people in Russia's military-industrial complex, two leaders of the central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of the legislature have been sanctions, the US Treasury said.

    Ukraine applies for NATO membership: Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine was formally applying for a fast-track membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

    "We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO," Zelenskyy said in a Telegram video.

    “We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance," he said.

    Weapons: Neither Ukraine not the United States can stop Russia from carrying out the annexation, however, the US and its allies claim that they will help Ukraine defeat Russia on the battlefield by supplying weapons, but not NATO troops.

    (With inputs from Reuters, CNN, and EuroNews.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Do We Know About the Referendums?

Four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine voted over five days in a referendum to join Russia, according to their leaders. The polls do not abide by international law. The referendums were called by pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and in the Russia-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizbzhia in south Ukraine, which together make up about 15% of Ukrainian territory, Reuters reported.

"Russia's referenda are a sham – a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter," US President Joe Biden said last week.

Reports from the four regions suggested that voting was being done at gunpoint and the pro-Russian authorities were going door to door to collect votes, trailed by armed guards.

"Rumours are being spread that people who vote against Russia are being taken away somewhere. This is deliberately done to intimidate the local population," Serhii Hayday, the Ukrainian head of Luhansk military administration told CNN.

The head of the election commission in these parts of Ukraine declared the poll results on Tuesday, 27 September.

  • 98.54 percent votes were in favour of joining Russia in Luhansk where 91.2 percent of the votes were counted.

  • In Donetsk, 32 percent of the votes were counted out of which 93.95 percent were in favour of joining Russia.

  • 87.05 percent of the votes in Kherson were in favour of joining Russia

  • In Zaporizhzhia, the final tally was reportedly 93.11 percent in favour of joining Russia.

This process was similar to when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. A referendum was organised, in which 97 percent of the votes were in favour of joining Russia.

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What Areas Has Russia Annexed? 

Russia has annexed 15 percent of Ukraine that is controlled by its forces, along with another 3 percent of Ukraine, including the front lines where Ukrainian soldiers are stationed to fight, such as the Donetsk region.

The areas include Donbas, which is a major part of eastern Ukraine and is populated with a high number of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Donbas includes Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), which Putin recognised as independent states right before the invasion took place in 24 February.

The total annexed area is at least 90,000 square kilometres of Ukraine territory.

Including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, at least one-fifth of Ukraine's territory is annexed by Moscow.

As the polls ended on Tuesday, 27 September, a law to formally recognise the four areas as Russian territory were passed by the Kremlin on Thursday, 29 September.

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What Has Putin Said?

Reuters quoted Putin at the ceremony, on Friday, 30 September, who said:

"We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this ... But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them."

Subsequently, Putin added that the annexation is a great liberation mission for Russia, which will now aim to rebuild "ruined settlements, housing, schools, hospitals, theatres, museums."

"We will restore and develop industrial enterprises, factories, infrastructure, social, pension, healthcare and education systems," Putin said

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The Big Picture

Putin had last week said that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend the "territorial integrity" of Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation issued a nuclear warning on 26 September, to Ukraine and the West.

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West's Response 

Sanctions: The US on Friday imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia, targeting hundreds of people and companies, including those in Russia's military-industrial complex and lawmakers "for enabling Russia's sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory," Reuters reported.

"We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor," US President Joe Biden said in a statement after Puting announced the annexation of Ukranian territory at a Kremlin ceremony.

Fourteen people in Russia's military-industrial complex, two leaders of the central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of the legislature have been sanctions, the US Treasury said.

Ukraine applies for NATO membership: Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine was formally applying for a fast-track membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

"We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO," Zelenskyy said in a Telegram video.

“We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance," he said.

Weapons: Neither Ukraine not the United States can stop Russia from carrying out the annexation, however, the US and its allies claim that they will help Ukraine defeat Russia on the battlefield by supplying weapons, but not NATO troops.

(With inputs from Reuters, CNN, and EuroNews.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from explainers

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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