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Annexation referendums in Ukraine: Antony Blinken denounces a “diabolical action”


The pro-Russian authorities of the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhia, Kherson, Lugansk and Donetsk on Tuesday claimed the victory of the “yes” in favor of annexation by Russia, during the “referendums” of annexation organized by Moscow and denounced by kyiv and its Western support. The next step is for the Russian Parliament, which is supposed to vote in the coming days on a treaty formalizing the integration of the four regions into Russian territory.

In the wake of this parliamentary process, President Vladimir Putin could make a speech as early as September 30 to formally announce the annexation of Ukrainian territories, according to Russian agencies. In the meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Tuesday evening in a video posted on Telegram that Ukraine would act “to defend its people”. “We will act to protect our people: both in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhia region, in the Donbass, and also in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region and in Crimea,” Zelensky said in his statement. first reaction after the announcement of the results by the pro-Russian authorities.

Speaking earlier on Tuesday in a recorded message to the UN Security Council, he said kyiv could not hold talks with Moscow after these “pseudo-referendums”. “Russia’s recognition of ‘pseudo-referendums’ as ‘normal’, the implementation of the same scenario as in Crimea and yet another attempt to annex part of Ukrainian territory means that we do not have to discuss with the current Russian president,” he said.

In 2014, President Putin signed a treaty linking Crimea to Russia just two days after the “referendum” that the Russian authorities had organized there, during a ceremony in the Kremlin, even before the vote of the Russian Parliament. This annexation was not recognized by the international community.

“Diabolical action”, says Blinken

The Zaporizhia region electoral commission said that 93.11% of voters had voted to join Russia, after counting 100% of the ballots. In the Kherson region, the pro-Moscow occupation administration reported that 87.05% of voters had voted in favor of “yes”, after counting all the ballots. Shortly after, that of Lugansk also announced the victory of the yes. In the evening, the pro-Russian authorities of the Donetsk region did the same.

“We are reuniting with our great fatherland, with great Russia,” reacted the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin. The allies of Ukraine have denounced these elections, organized in an emergency in the face of the progress of the forces of kyiv. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs repeated on Tuesday during a Security Council meeting on these annexation “referendums”, the United Nations’ support for “the territorial integrity of Ukraine” in its “recognized borders”. The G7 has vowed to “never recognize” the results and Washington has promised a “severe” response through economic sanctions.

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, repeated that the United States and its allies would retaliate with new and “severe” sanctions against Russia, in the face of these annexations which he described as “diabolical action”. Through the voice of its ambassador to the UN, China called for respect for “the territorial integrity of all countries”. Vladimir Putin for his part defended these polls as the means of “saving the local populations”, Moscow justifying its invasion by accusing kyiv of “Nazism” and of orchestrating a “genocide” of Russian speakers in Ukraine. These votes concern more than 20% of the surface of Ukraine.

Nuclear threat

Claiming its control over these new territories, Moscow again threatened on Tuesday to use nuclear weapons. “Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary,” said former president and number two of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev. A position confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who recalled Russian military doctrine, which provides for the possibility of such strikes in the event of an attack against Russian territory.

In the evening, the Pentagon affirmed that Washington “takes these threats seriously”, without however “adjusting its nuclear position for the moment”. For NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Russia must know that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be waged”. At the same time, Russia continues to lead a mobilization of its reservists in order to recruit 300,000 fighters, seeking parade against the counter-offensive of Ukrainian troops who, with strong deliveries of Western weapons, took over thousands of square kilometers of territory at the beginning of September.

In Crimea, an AFP journalist saw rows of mobilized men, often middle-aged, in military fatigues and Kalashnikovs in hand, waiting their turn before boarding buses. This recruitment campaign, conducted in places in a chaotic manner, has pushed many Russians to flee, an exodus confirmed on Tuesday by two neighboring countries, Georgia and Kazakhstan, while an influx is also observed at the borders of Mongolia and Finland.



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