Russia says more than 97% of eastern Ukrainian voters backed annexation in referendums

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Russian election authorities have confirmed that accession referendums held in four regions of eastern Ukraine, and not recognized by the international community, have resulted in results that in cases exceed 97 percent support for ‘yes’.

The consultations kicked off on Friday in the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as in the Kherson and Zaporiyia regions, and concluded on Tuesday.

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Results released by Russia’s Election Commission, with recounts already completed in most cases, show overwhelming support in all four territories, especially in Donetsk, where 98.7 percent is reached, according to TASS.

In Lugansk, the ‘yes’ vote was 97.93 percent; in Zaporiyia, 97.81 percent; while the Kherson region received the least support for accession to Russia, although the ‘yes’ vote was significantly higher, at 96.75 percent.

The Ukrainian authorities and Western governments do not grant any validity to the referendums, while Moscow intends to use them to legitimize its occupation, as it did in 2014 with the Crimean peninsula. The Kremlin has already made it clear that the hypothetical annexation of the four territories would be swift.

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Indeed, UK intelligence services believe there is “a realistic possibility” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce the formal annexation on Friday, during a speech he is scheduled to deliver to both houses of Parliament.

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