Moscow: Russia has claimed to win four ‘referendums’ in occupied Ukrainian regions, a victory which Moscow may use as grounds to annex more territory, the media reported on Wednesday.
Voting had taken place on Tuesday in the separatist eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as in the Russia-occupied parts of the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, reports the BBC.
Refugees scattered across Russia were also able to vote at dozens of polling stations, including in Crimea, a southern Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
Up to four million people were asked to vote in these regions, which make up about 15 per cent of Ukraine’s territory.
The voting was not independently monitored as there was no international recognition to the process, says the BBC report.
However, Russian officials deployed in these regions have claimed almost total support from the people who took part in the balloting.
Responding to the referendums, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of “brutally violating the UN statute” by trying to annex territories seized by force.
In his nightly video address to the nation, the President said on Tuesday: “None of Russia’s criminal actions will change anything for Ukraine. We recognize the UN Charter, we recognize the basic principles of coexistence of peoples. And we will continue to act in order to protect normal life in Ukraine, in Europe, and in the world.
“We will act to protect our people in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhzhia region, in Donbas, in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, and in Crimea.
“This farce in the occupied territory cannot even be called an imitation of referenda.”