Ukraine brushes off Russian plan to annex occupied areas - Reuters

  • four Russia-occupied regions announce referendum plans
  • Votes could be held on no matter if to develop into a part of Russia
  • Votes should be held from Sept. 23-27
  • outcome of votes could be irreversible - Medvedev
  • Ukraine and the West regard votes as sham and unlawful
  • KYIV, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Russian-installed leaders in occupied areas of 4 Ukrainian areas set out plans for referendums on becoming a member of Russia, a circulation Ukraine disregarded on Monday as a stunt by using Moscow to are trying to reclaim the initiative after crushing losses on the battlefield.

    "The Russians can do whatever they desire. it's going to no longer exchange the rest," Ukraine's international Minister Dmytro Kuleba observed according to repor ters' questions at first of a gathering with U.S. Ambassador to the United nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

    In a tweet, he introduced: "Russia has been and is still an aggressor illegally occupying elements of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has every appropriate to liberate its territories and will retain releasing them anything Russia has to assert."

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    U.S. country wide security Adviser Jake Sullivan noted Washington and its allies would reject such a referendums, which he referred to would deliver Russia no benefits on the battlefield.

    within the curiously coordinated movement, Russian-backed officers introduced planned referendums for Sept. 23-27 in the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing round 15% of Ukrainian territory or an area about the size of Hungary.

    Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, which collectively make up the Donbas location Moscow partly occupied in 2014, to be independent states. Ukraine and the West accept as true with all ingredients of Ukraine held via Russian forces to be illegally occupied.

    In a submit on social media addressed to Putin, the chief of the self-proclaimed Donetsk individuals's Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, wrote: "I ask you, as quickly as viable, in the event of a favorable determination within the referendum - which we have no doubt about - to accept as true with the DPR becoming a part of Russia."

    Some pro-Kremlin figures framed the referendums as an ultimatum to the West to accept Russian territorial good points or face an all out struggle with a nuclear-armed foe.

    "Encroachmen t onto Russian territory is against the law which allows you to use all of the forces of selfâ€"defence," Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and now hawkish deputy chairman of Putin's protection Council spoke of on social media.

    Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the professional-Kremlin RT tv station, wrote: "these days a referendum, the following day awareness as a part of the Russian Federation, the day after tomorrow strikes on Russian territory become a full-fledged battle between Ukraine and NATO and Russia, untying Russia's arms in every respect."

    Reframing fighting in occupied terr itory as an attack on Russia may also give Moscow a justification to mobilise its 2 million-mighty armed forces reserves. Moscow has to date resisted this kind of movement despite mounting losses in what it calls a confined "particular armed forces operation" in preference to a warfare.

    Sullivan noted Washington turned into aware about studies Putin should be would becould very well be when you consider that ordering a mobilisation, which Sullivan stated would do nothing to undermine Ukraine's skill to push lower back Russian aggression.

    vehicles force past promoting boards, including panels displayin g professional-Russian slogans, in a highway in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Luhansk, Ukraine September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

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    Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, additionally referred to knowledge Russian mobilisation plans, tweeting: "Sham ‘referendums’ will now not change anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilisation’."

    "As Russia strikes ahead with fake referenda in occupied territories of Ukraine, let me say it loud and clear: we can certainly not know this. Ukraine has every right to take lower back its territory," Estonian leading Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted.

    Russia has declared capturing all of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces to be the main goal of its "particular militia operation" seeing that its invasion forces have been defeated in March on the outskirts of Kyiv.

    It now holds about 60% of Donetsk and had captured pretty much all of Luhansk with the aid of July after gradual advances during months of intense combating. however these positive factors are now under threat after Russian forces have been driven from neighbouring Kharkiv province this month, losing control of their main supply traces for an awful lot of the Donetsk and Luhansk front traces.

    The referendums had been introduced a day after Ukraine noted its troops had recaptured a foothold in Luhansk, the village of Bilohorivka, and had been preparing to advance throughout the province.

    Ukraine's defence ministry taunted Moscow, which has claimed it deserted the front in Kharkiv to "regroup" for combating in other places. "Why did the hen cross the road?" the Ukrainian ministry tweeted. "since it became regrouping."

    Russia controls most of Zaporizhzhia however no longer its regional capital. In Kherson, where the regional capital is the handiest major metropolis Russia has to date captured intact due to the fact that the invasion, Ukraine has launched a big counter-offensive.

    Unverified photos on social media confirmed Ukrainian forces in Bilohorivka, which lies simply 10 km (6 miles) west of the city of Lysychansk, which fell to the Russians after weeks of one of the vital battle's most intense combating in July.

    "There will be combating for every centimetre," the Ukrainian g overnor of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaidai, wrote on Telegram. "The enemy is preparing their defence. So we can no longer simply march in."

    professional-Russian officials have pointed out the referendums can be held electronically. Russia staged a referendum in Crimea eight years in the past earlier than declaring it annexed. Western international locations have pushed aside such votes as unlawful and fraudulent.

    In a move designed to shore up Russia's armed forces in Ukraine, Russia's parliament on Tuesday also accredited a invoice to toughen punishments for a bunch of crimes akin to desertion, damage to militar y property and insubordination, if they were dedicated all the way through military mobilisation or combat situations. examine greater

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    Reporting by means of Reuters bureaus; Writing via Andrew Osborn and Alex Richardson; modifying with the aid of Angus MacSwan and Peter Graff

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