May 28, 2023

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Donetsk and Lugansk demand annexation to Russia. Medvedev: “The accession would justify the use of force against Ukraine”

Lugansk and Donetsk are demanding to be annexed to Russia in the near future, while Ukrainian troops continue to advance in the east of the country claiming the territories seized by Moscow’s forces, DPA reports on Monday.

Russia recognized the two so-called “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk on February 24, the day it invaded Ukraine. She stated that the goal was to liberate the two regions from the control of Ukrainian troops, informs Agerpres.

Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence from Kyiv with the help of the Kremlin after Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. But until the recent invasion, the separatists controlled only about a third of the area they claimed.

Now, as Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues, officials in Lugansk have called on the local leadership to hold a referendum on annexation soon.

Shortly thereafter, the civic chamber of the Donetsk People’s Republic issued the same request, according to the Russian news agency TASS, cited by DPA.

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The population of Kherson is also demanding a referendum, according to Kirill Stremusov, the head of the administration appointed by Russia.

Moscow has been preparing to hold referendums in areas it has controlled for some time to annex them to Russia. The referendum in Kherson was initially postponed until November 4, in view of the advance of Ukrainian troops.

It is too early to talk about a date, said Aleksei Kariakin, president of the Luhansk civic chamber, on Russian television.

Moscow did not speed up the process of annexing the two separatist regions that together make up Donbas.

However, the Russian parliament supports the request for the accession of the areas. “It should happen quickly, this is the will of the people,” said Viktor Vodolaţki, deputy in the Duma of United Russia, the party in power.

He said the vote should take place before the end of autumn.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian head of the Lugansk administration, Serhii Haidai, said that the annexation of the territories will give Moscow the opportunity for general mobilization.

This would mean that if Ukraine recaptured Donetsk and Lugansk, Moscow would interpret this as an attack on Russian territory, he told Radio Svoboda.

Medvedev: The annexation of Donetsk and Lugansk regions to Russia by referendum would justify the use of force against Ukraine

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said it was “essential” that Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine hold referendums in which their regions join Russia, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

In a post on social media, Medvedev said that making the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR, the Russian acronyms) officially part of the Russian Federation is a vital step in protecting their interests and could further justify Russia’s use of military force to protect them.

On Monday, the separatist leaders of the DNR and the LNR agreed to ‘synchronize’ their efforts to organize referendums on joining Russia, after Moscow-appointed officials at the local level increased their calls not to delay the holding of these plebiscites, despite the counter-offensive Ukrainians in the south and east.

“Referendums in Donbas (mining area in eastern Ukraine composed of Donetsk and Lugansk regions) are essential, not only for the systematic protection of residents of the DNR and LNR and other liberated territories, but also for the restoration of historical justice,” states Medvedev in a post on Telegram.

Medvedev, currently the vice president of Russia’s powerful Security Council, argues that Moscow should allow these (Ukrainian) regions to join Russia, as this would give the Kremlin additional justification for using military force in Ukraine.

“An intrusion into Russian territory is a crime and will allow us to use all self-defense forces,” Medvedev declared.

This is why Kiev and the West are afraid of these referendums. This is the reason why they must be organized’, he claims.

The joining of the two regions to the Russian Federation will completely change the vector of Russia’s development for decades. And not only of Russia. Because after the organization of the referendums and the integration of the two entities into the composition of the Russian Federation, the geopolitical transformation in the world acquires an irreversible character, writes the former president in his Telegram post.

No less important is the fact, he asserts, that after the amendment of the Constitution, no future leader of Russia, no Russian official will be able to cancel the decision of joining the two regions to the Russian Federation.

Russian-backed separatists in Donbas have been mulling joining the Russian Federation since they first tried to break free from Kiev’s control in 2014.

Officials appointed by Moscow in other regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces after the invasion launched on February 24 – Kherson and Zaporozhye regions in the south of the country – have been saying for some time that they are preparing to organize referendums to join Russia.

Russian forces say they have been in control of the entire Luhansk region since early July, but Ukrainian officials said on Monday they had liberated a town in the region as part of the Ukrainian army’s ongoing counteroffensive.

Significant areas of the territory claimed by separatist authorities in Donetsk are still under Ukrainian control, and Kiev also controls territory in both the Kherson region and Zaporozhye.

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