The regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the east of the country, have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists since 2014. That of Kherson, in the south, has been occupied by the Russian army since the start of its invasion launched on February 24, as well as that of Zaporijjia.
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The pro-Russian separatist territories of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, as well as the two regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, located in the south, will organize referendums to integrate Russia, from Friday 23 to Tuesday 27 September, their authorities and official news agencies reported on Tuesday (September 20). The integration into Russia of the provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhya would represent a major escalation in the conflict.
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One of the main pro-Russian representatives of Donbass, Denis Pushilin, President of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said in Telegram messaging that the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics of Donetsk and Luhansk “actively working” since Monday evening to the organization of a referendum to join Russia. He also specified that he had no “no doubt” on the outcome of the ballot.
After the announcement of the referendums, kyiv reacted by promising to “settle the Russian question”. “The threat can only be liquidated by force”wrote on Telegram the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, denouncing a “blackmail” from Moscow, motivated by “fear of defeat”.