London: Russia will launch its plan to annex around 15% of Ukrainian land through referendums in four districts held by Russian forces on Friday, a move the West condemns as a flagrant breach of international law that would considerably intensify the war. After nearly seven months of fighting and a significant military setback in northeastern Ukraine earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially endorsed the referendums after Russian-controlled districts lined up to request quick polls to join Russia.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR), which Putin recognized as independent immediately before the invasion, as well as Russian-installed governments in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, will hold elections. The vote, which the West and Ukraine accuse of being a fraud, is set to start on Friday and finish on Tuesday, with results anticipated soon after. Following the outcome, Russia will legally annex the territory. “The Kremlin is orchestrating fake referendums to try to conquer areas of Ukraine,” US President Joe Biden said at the United Nations General Assembly’s 77th session.
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