After what Ukraine and the West decried as illegitimate sham referendums performed under duress, Russia was prepared to annex a large portion of Ukraine within days and released what it said were vote counts showing overwhelming support in four provinces to join it.
A stage with enormous video displays and billboards reading “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson — Russia!” have been erected on Moscow’s Red Square.
On October 4, three days before President Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, the president of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament stated it may examine the integration of the four partially occupied territories.
The four provinces’ newly created Russian-installed governments have officially requested that Putin admit them to Russia, which Russian officials have claimed is only a formality.
The self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic’s envoy to Moscow, Rodion Miroshnik, informed the Russian official news agency RIA that “this should happen within a week.”
“The referendum has already happened, which is the key event. So let’s argue that because the locomotive has already begun, stopping it is unlikely.”
A treaty must be drafted and approved by the Russian parliament, which Putin supporters control, in order to annex the areas, which make up around 15% of Ukraine. The regions will subsequently be regarded as being under the nuclear protection of Russia.
Putin has issued a warning that he will defend Russian territory with nuclear weapons.
Residents who just fled to Ukrainian-controlled regions have said that roaming officials have been intimidating voters into voting in the street while brandishing firearms. During the drill, armed men could be seen following Russian-installed officials as they carried vote boxes from house to home.
“Any announcement is acceptable. Only a few persons who changed sides cast votes in the referendum. They visited each home, but no one answered the door “said Lyubomir Boyko, 43, of Golo Pristan, a hamlet in the region of Kherson that is under Russian occupation.
According to Russia, participation was high and voting was voluntary in accordance with international law. The world has rejected referendums and the idea of annexations, just as it did when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
In a series of phone discussions with foreign leaders, including those of Britain, Canada, Germany, and Turkey, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tried to mobilise opposition to annexation on a global scale.
“I want to thank you everyone for your unwavering and unambiguous support. I appreciate your understanding of our position “In a late-night video message, Zelenskiy stated.
For Ukraine, the United States has announced a $1.1 billion weaponry package that consists of 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, supplemental ammunition, different counter-drone technologies, and radar systems. With the statement, US security assistance now totals $16.2 billion.
Additionally, the European Union’s executive proposed additional sanctions in response to the referendums, and the United States has also stated that it would do the same. However, for these measures to be put into effect, the 27 nations that make up the bloc will need to put aside their differences.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, stated that Russia would need to continue battling until it had fully seized control of Donetsk. 40% of it is still governed by Ukraine.
In order to strengthen its forces in Ukraine, Russia has stated that it will call up some 300,000 reserve soldiers. Numerous Russian males have fled to foreign nations as a result of the conscription campaign.
Heavy battle is taking place between Ukrainian and Russian forces on the ground, particularly in the Donetsk area, where the governor said that six people were killed by Russian strikes on Wednesday.
Russia carried out more than 82 assaults from rocket salvo systems on military and civilian targets over the course of the previous 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said early on Thursday. Russia also carried out three missile and eight air strikes.
The ground troops also destroyed two command posts, according to the Ukrainian air force, which carried out 16 attacks on Wednesday and damaged or destroyed a number of Russian installations.
The Dnipropetrovsk region’s governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, reported that three persons, including a 12-year-old girl, were killed and more than 60 structures were destroyed as a result of Russian bombardment of the region’s capital, Dnipro.
On his Telegram channel, he said, “The rescuers pulled her out of the wrecked house where she was only asleep when a Russian missile hit.”
Reports from the battlefield could not be confirmed by Reuters.
After alleged explosions tore through undersea pipes constructed by Russia and European partners to transport natural gas to Europe, gas leaks continued to rise up in the Baltic Sea for a third day.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which was previously the primary pathway for Russian gas to reach Germany, was already closed, but it is now difficult to restart it.
Although officials refrained from naming any culprits, NATO and the European Union issued warnings about the need to protect key infrastructure against what they dubbed “sabotage.”
According to the general prosecutor’s office, Russia’s FSB security service is looking into the damage to the pipelines as “international terrorism.”
The Nord Stream pipelines have served as flashpoints in an intensifying energy conflict between Russia and European nations, which has hurt Western economies and driven up gas prices.