The Ukrainian government said Tuesday that “farce of referendums” announced by pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporiyia and Kherson regions “will not change anything”, after it was specified during the day that these votes will take place between September 23 and 27.
“The farce of the referendums will not change anything and neither will any hybrid mobilization,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba said in a message on his account on the social network Twitter. “Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying part of the Ukrainian territory,” he has denounced.
In this regard, he has stressed that “Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will continue to liberate them, regardless of what Russia has to say,” in the framework of the counter-offensives launched by the Ukrainian Army over the past weeks in parts of the Kherson and Kharkov regions.
On the other hand, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Irina Vereshchuk has asked Ukrainians living in Kherson, Zaporiyia, Donetsk and Lugansk not to participate in the consultations.
“Once again I appeal to our citizens, Ukrainians who are now forced to stay in temporarily occupied territories, not to take part in any referendums, to ignore and not to go to participate,” she has said, according to Ukrinform.
In addition, he has detailed that the Executive has proposed to raise to fifteen years prison sentences for crimes related to the acquisition of Russian passports or coercion to participate in referendums.
For his part, the head of the Lugansk Regional Administration, Serhiy Haidai, has stated that the pro-Russian authorities have launched the referendum “considering the fact that they will lose on the battlefield.” “The only thing left for them is to quickly hold referendum which of course will be fake and with prepared results,” he said.
Haidai has stressed that the pro-Russian authorities thus seek to set administrative borders of the territories captured during the war so that Russia can denounce an “attack” on its territory once the Ukrainian Army continues to advance in its offensives and breaks into these areas, as Ukrainian news agency UNIAN has reported.
The authorities of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the pro-Russian authorities of Kherson and Zaporiyia, announced earlier Tuesday that the referendum on the possible accession of these territories to Russia will be held between September 23 and 27.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that these initiatives are a sign of the population’s desire to be able to determine whether they want to be part of Russia. “Since the beginning of the special military operation and, in general, in the preceding period, we said that the population of the respective territories should decide their future,” he has indicated. “The current situation confirms that they want to be masters of their destiny,” he concluded.