Ukraine: start of annexation referendums in pro-Russian controlled areas

The war in Ukraine takes on another face. Russian annexation “referendums” began on Friday (September 23rd) in areas wholly or partly controlled by Moscow, Russian news agencies reported. These polls are described as “simulacra” by kyiv and the West.

Under the fire of international criticism, Russia also found itself in the dock in the Security Council. She was called to account for her invasion of Ukraine, the day after her announcement of the immediate mobilization of 300,000 reservists, accompanied by threats of recourse to nuclear weapons made by Vladimir Putin.

These votes, which began at 7 a.m. (local time), must be held until September 27 in the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (east), and in areas under Russian occupation in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia ( south), in the midst of Moscow’s military offensive against Ukraine.

Ballots in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions ask: “Are you in favor of secession from Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by the region and its joining the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation?” Votes would be collected by selected Russian authorities going door-to-door for the first four days. Polling stations will be open on the last election day, Tuesday.

The long-awaited face-off did not really happen: the foreign ministers of the UN Security Council demanded, on Thursday, that Vladimir Putin’s Russia be held to account for its invasion of Ukraine , in front of their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov who generally snubbed them.

“I don’t believe that anyone in the Security Council room, from Wang Yi (the Chinese foreign minister) to Antony Blinken (his American counterpart), spared Vladimir Putin or Lavrov the least bit,” he said. commented a senior American official at the end of the meeting, on condition of anonymity.

Present in the room to deliver his speech, Sergueï Lavrov, his face closed, did not attend the speeches of the other ministers: he gave up his place at the Council table to his deputy and left the room after his speech, confirmed by diplomatic sources. Convened by the French presidency of the Security Council, the meeting focused on the situation in Ukraine and the “impunity” of crimes committed since the invasion of the country by Russia.

“During the first day of partial mobilization, about 10,000 citizens arrived by themselves at the military police stations, without waiting for their summons”, assured the Interfax agency Vladimir Tsimlianski, a spokesperson for the general staff. .

Images posted on social networks claimed to show the mobilization in a locality of Yakutia, in Siberia, with men with closed faces embracing their loved ones, some in tears, before boarding a bus. In other frames posted by popular Telegram channel Mash, a line of men can be seen standing in front of a troop transport plane on a tarmac at night.

For its part, the Czech Republic will not issue humanitarian visas to Russians fleeing their country to avoid the mobilization announced by President Vladimir Putin, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Russians on Thursday to “protest” against the mobilization on the Ukrainian front announced by the Kremlin or to “surrender” to the forces of kyiv. “55,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in this war in six months (…) Do you want more? No? So protest! Fight! Flee! Or surrender” to the Ukrainian army, he said. in Russian in its traditional video address. “These are your options to survive.”

“You are already complicit in all the crimes (of the Russian army), murders and tortures of which the Ukrainians are victims. Because you are silent. Because you are still silent,” accused Volodymyr Zelensky. He also said that the Russian authorities are preparing to mobilize “up to a million men”. Officially, Moscow announced the day before the mobilization on Wednesday of 300,000 reservists.

“Many” Ukrainians handed over to kyiv by Moscow in a major prisoner of war exchange were “brutally tortured” in captivity, Kyrylo Budanov, head of the ministry’s intelligence department, said on Thursday. of the Ukrainian Defence, without giving details on the nature of these alleged tortures.

According to him, there are also “people whose physical condition is more or less normal apart from chronic undernourishment due to the poor conditions of detention”. These prisoners were held in several establishments in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops, as well as in Russia, added Kyrylo Budanov, who participated in the organization of this exchange, the largest since the start of the invasion. Russian.

Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who regularly blames European Union (EU) sanctions against Russia, wants to have them lifted by December. A “national consultation” will also be launched on the subject.

During an internal meeting of the ruling Fidesz party, the leader called on his troops “to do everything possible to ensure that Europe lifts the sanctions at the latest before the end of the year”, writes the newspaper pro Magyar Nemzet government, just as Brussels is considering new ones. Contacted by AFP, the government “confirmed” the information in the article. At the same time, Fidesz announced the forthcoming launch of a public consultation, a method used since 2015 to denounce, for example, the EU’s migration policy, or the payment of legal compensation to detainees and Roma.


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