[Sui Xin, a special correspondent of the Global Times in Russia, has a heavy responsibility] The "referendum on Russia" in Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporoge and Kherson will be held from September 23 to 27 local time. According to the Russian News on the 21st, the Russian social polling agency estimated that the support rate for joining the Russian Federation from 4000 respondents by telephone was 80% in Lugansk, 72% in Donetsk, 65% in Zaporoge and 83% in Kherson. However, as Al Jazeera reported on the 22nd, the Russian army does not fully control any of the four places mentioned above. The "referendum" area is about 90000 square kilometers, accounting for nearly 15% of Ukraine's territory, and the area is equivalent to Portugal or Jordan.
The votes of the four places are different
According to the arrangement, the "referendum" of the four places mainly adopts the combination of on-site voting and remote electronic voting, and all local residents over the age of 18 can participate in the voting. According to Russian media, the "Donetsk People's Republic" allows residents still in areas under the control of the Ukrainian authorities to vote in Russia or the "liberated areas". The "Lugansk People's Republic" set up 181 polling stations for citizens in Russia.[P.
Among them, the main problem of setting up the Lugansk and Donetsk regions is: "Do you agree that the 'Lugansk People's Republic' ('Donetsk People's Republic ') will join the Russian Federation as the main body of the Russian Federation?" Kherson and Zaporoge regions set up three questions, namely, whether they agreed to "independence from Ukraine", whether they agreed to "establish an independent state" and whether they agreed to "join the Russian Federation".
On the 22nd, Medvedev, Vice President of the Security Conference of the Russian Federation, said through social media that Russia has announced that any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and new types of weapons, can be used for defense in newly joined Russian territories. According to the Russian News, Kartaporov, chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Russian Duma, said that if Lugansk and Donetsk become part of Russia, the "volunteer forces" in these regions will become official soldiers of the Russian armed forces.
Svetov, a Russian political scientist, said that the main threat to the referendum now came from shelling by the Ukrainian army. However, Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu have instructed the Russian army to take special security measures to ensure the safe conduct of the referendum.
The West questioned the "referendum" plan
Bloomberg News Agency of the United States said on the 21st that it was unclear how such a staged vote would be conducted. "The authorities in the occupied areas of Ukraine are working hard to ensure basic services and security. Thousands of residents have been displaced, and it is almost impossible to organize a real referendum.". Pro Russian regime officials said they might use online voting. Bloomberg said that this technology was considered to be "a common election fraud tool in Russia".
The Washington Post said that "the voting result is doomed". Without credible international observers, the whole process will be under the control of the Russian government and the "occupying forces". In 2014, Crimea's "referendum" result was that 97% of residents supported joining Russia. According to the report, the pro Russian regimes in these regions have been saying for months that they will hold such a vote. However, it is clear that after Ukraine achieved "military reversion to Russia" on the battlefield this month, the relevant voting plan has accelerated. These officials of the pro Russian regime in eastern Ukraine this week requested Moscow to take urgent measures to "immediately annex these territories". At the same time, they have taken some administrative measures in the Ukraine region under their control, including changing to the Russian ruble and issuing Russian passports to narrow the distance with Russia. "The referendum will formalize Moscow's control".
At the same time, Pushlin, an official of the Donetsk pro Russian regime, told RIA Novosti that staff would collect votes from door to door, and people could vote in designated public places. He said that the "referendum" would "seek historical justice for the long suffering people on this land, and they would win the right to become a part of their great motherland". The Associated Press also quoted Zapologe's pro Russian personage Rogov as saying: "The sooner we become a part of Russia, the sooner peace will be achieved."
"It is unlikely to slow down the military agenda"
Al Jazeera TV said on the 22nd that the Russian army and pro Russian forces controlled most and almost the entire Kherson region in Donbas (mainly including Lugansk and Donetsk), as well as some areas in Zaporoge. However, since August this year, the Ukrainian army has launched a counterattack to recover Kherson and their lost territories in Lugansk and Donetsk. President Serenski said on the 21st that the situation on the front line with the Russian army clearly shows that Ukraine "has mastered the initiative". At the same time, he played down the actions of the pro Russian regime to organize "referendum" in parts of Ukraine controlled by the Russian army and try to bring these areas into Russian territory, calling them "noise" and "false referendum".
CNN said on the 22nd that Putin's announcement of support for the "referendum" in four places of Ukraine was almost synchronous with the announcement of some military mobilization. The idea of organizing several regions that are still fighting fiercely with the Ukrainian army within a few days is absurd on the surface, but Levin, director of the Eurasian Program of the Quincy Institute of the United States, said that Putin took this message, It is "to make the United States and Europe realize that they must seriously negotiate with Russia to reach a compromise solution to end the war, otherwise, Russia will take radical escalation measures, which will not only force the western countries to escalate their actions, but also destroy any possibility of peace for a long time in the future".
However, Massicott, a senior policy researcher at RAND, told the Washington Post on the 21st that the "referendum" is unlikely to slow down Ukraine's military agenda. He said, "Ukraine has a strong motivation to continue to recover this territory, and the Russian army is now in the weakest moment." After President Biden denounced Russia in the UN General Assembly on the 21st, the Washington Post said that it was unclear what additional support countries would provide to Ukraine. Last month, US national security officials said that if the Ukrainian military tried to retake the territory controlled by Russia, "the United States would continue to support Ukraine".
Lugansk is the most eastern state of Ukraine. It covers an area of 26700 square kilometers and has 2.1 million residents. According to the 2021 census data (the same below), the Ukrainian nationality accounts for about 58% and the Russian nationality accounts for about 39%. At present, about 90% of the state is under Russian control. The local area is rich in mineral resources, and its economy is dominated by coal, steel, machinery manufacturing and chemical industry. (Liu Yupeng)
Donetsk State is located in the southeast of Ukraine, with a total area of 26900 square kilometers. With a population of about 4.2 million, it is the most populous state in Ukraine, of which the Ukrainian ethnic group accounts for about 50% and the Russian ethnic group accounts for about 45%. The region's economy is dominated by heavy industries such as mines, with a high degree of industrialization. Historically, the state was once named "Stalino" to commemorate Stalin, the Soviet leader. Since May 2014, the local pro Russian armed forces and the Ukrainian army have been involved in a war for more than 8 years. At present, Russia controls about 60% of Donetsk. (Liu Yupeng)
Zapologe Prefecture is located in the southeast of Ukraine, bordering on the Azov Sea, with an area of about 27200 square kilometers. There are more than 1.6 million residents, of which 71% are Ukrainian and 25% are Russian. The state is the flagship of Ukraine's power industry, where about 25% of the country's electricity is produced. It is also an important commodity grain base in Ukraine. At present, Russia controls more than 70% of the region in the state. (Liu Yupeng)
Kherson State is a state in the south of Ukraine, where the Dnieper River flows into the Black Sea from east to west. With an area of about 28500 square kilometers, it is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Ukraine. There are more than 1 million residents, including about 82% Ukrainians and 14% Russians. The state is the largest agricultural state in Ukraine, known as Ukraine's "fruit basket". It has fertile land, rich resources, developed science and education, and profound cultural heritage. At present, the competition between Russia and Ukraine in the state is still fierce, with about 70% under Russian control. (Liu Yupeng)