As Russia continues to hold referendums across occupied territories in Ukraine asking residents to vote to join Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Ukraine’s annexation would mean the end of any diplomatic negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Sunday, Zelensky said during an interview with CBS that the referendum could “lead to very tragic moments.” face the nationsaying that the Russians threatened to cut off electricity and arrest people in order to force them to participate in what Zelensky called “fake referendums.”
Zelensky said that a “very low percentage” of people supported the referendum, even among those who were forced to participate in the vote.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, face the nation Putin’s move to hold a referendum is a sign that they are “struggling hard,” adding that the US would not recognize “mock referendums” that “in no way represent the will of the Ukrainian people.”
Russia-installed authorities on Friday began holding referendums in the four occupied regions of Ukraine – Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – in a move that drew international condemnation. Ballots ask whether voters want to secede from Ukraine to create an independent state entering the Russian Federation. Ukrainian and Western officials say the results are likely to be heavily rigged in favor of joining Russia. Serhiy Gaidai, the exiled Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, alleged that the authorities went door-to-door to force Ukrainians to vote at gunpoint and threaten them with job loss and arrest. Voting will continue until Tuesday.
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Putin indicated last week that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to protect Russia’s “territorial integrity.” His comments raised concerns that if Putin used the results of the referendum to justify annexation, Russia would threaten severe retaliation in response to any Ukrainian efforts to retake the four territories.
$15 billion. This is the amount the United States has given Ukraine’s defense against Russia, Sullivan said Sunday, in the form of weapons such as air defense systems and artillery. “Nothing Russia has done with this mobilization of forces, with its phony referendums in occupied territories, will deter us from providing Ukraine with the necessary means and techniques they need to defend themselves,” Sullivan said.
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