Ukraine: four regions in the process of being annexed by Russia

Lrussia completed on Tuesday September 27 the organization of the annexation referendums in four territories totally or partly under its control in Ukraine, arousing the anger of both kyiv and Westerners, who promised a strong response in the event of incorporation. Held since Friday in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the east of the country, and those under Russian occupation of Kherson and Zaporijjia in the south, these polls have been denounced as “simulacra” by Ukraine and its allies.

The G7 countries have vowed to “never recognize” their results, while Washington has promised a “swift and severe” response through additional economic sanctions to these annexations, which follow the pattern of that of Crimea in March 2014 China, Moscow’s closest partner, without going so far as to denounce the elections, also called for respecting “the territorial integrity of all countries”.

These criticisms and threats did not stop Moscow, which last week urgently organized these elections against the backdrop of Ukrainian military successes, opening hundreds of polling stations in the four territories and in Russia to allow the displaced to vote. The authorities assured that “provisional results” should be announced no earlier than Tuesday evening or in the days that follow. The Russian Parliament will then have to vote on a text formalizing the integration of the four regions into Russia.

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An express vote of the Russian Parliament to validate the ballots

In these elections, Moscow is keen to respect the appearance of a legitimate process. Therefore, a delay will be necessary for the counting. The “provisional results” should be announced by the “electoral commissions” set up by Moscow in each of these territories, at the earliest Tuesday evening or in the days that follow. If the “yes” wins, which is beyond doubt, the Russian Parliament will vote for a treaty formalizing the integration of the four regions into Russian territory.

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The Russian news agencies TASS and Ria Novosti, citing parliamentary sources, reported over the weekend that a draft law to this effect could be submitted to the Duma on Tuesday evening, before adoption the following day at a session extraordinary. Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Friday that he would “support” the integration of pro-Russian-controlled territories into Russia after the referendum. The text will then have to pass before the upper house of Parliament, the Council of the Federation. A formality that could be completed on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Russian agencies.

Putin will speak

In the wake of the parliamentary process, President Vladimir Putin could deliver a speech as early as September 30 to formally announce the annexation of Ukrainian territories, according to several Russian agencies. Some media refer to a speech to parliamentarians gathered in the Kremlin, others to a speech to one of the two chambers of Parliament.

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According to TASS, senators were ordered to carry out three anti-Covid tests in anticipation of an “important event” on Friday, a strict health measure to which those who meet the president in the Kremlin must submit. But it is not excluded that Vladimir Putin decides to speak before this date.

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