Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Uhmurica Will NEVER Accept Democratic Referenda Held By Majority Ethnic Russian Oblasts

WaPo  |  Russia pushed ahead Tuesday with plans to annex occupied regions of Ukraine, as Moscow’s puppet authorities set dates to stage referendums on joining Russia — moves that could dramatically escalate the war.

Officials in the self-declared separatist “republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk, and in the occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, announced “referendums” to be held from Friday to Tuesday. Such votes, which are illegal under Ukrainian and international law, have been widely derided by Western officials as a sham and merely a precursor to annexation.

After annexing the territories, Moscow probably would declare Ukrainian attacks on those areas to be assaults on Russia itself, analysts warned, a potential trigger for a general military mobilization or a dangerous escalation, such as the use of a nuclear weapon.

White House spokesman Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that the United States would never recognize Russian claims to annexed territory, calling the planned referendums a direct violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. “We reject Russia’s actions unequivocally,” he said.

The head of the Russian-appointed occupying administration of Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said a referendum would be held on the same dates in the parts of that region controlled by Russian forces, which includes Enerhodar, where Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant is located.

Balitsky said there was “no point in postponing the procedure.”

Moscow’s proxy leader in Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, appealed to Russia for help organizing the referendum, highlighting the thin veneer of pretense that local officials were in control. Denis Pushilin, the puppet leader in Donetsk, said police and members of his administration’s “electoral commission” would knock on people’s doors and “invite” them to vote.

Russia does not have a firm military grip on any of the regions it could move to annex, and the quick staging of votes suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin now aims to accomplish by political fiat what he failed to achieve on the battlefield.

But seizing Ukrainian sovereign territory in flagrant violation of international law, just as world leaders gather at the United Nations for the annual General Assembly, would be a remarkably brazen step, even for Putin, who has shown little regard for global public opinion as he launched the largest land war in Europe since World War II.