“The world will react completely to the pseudo-referendums – they will be categorically condemned,” Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation.
Votes are being held in Ukraine in four provinces that are wholly or partly controlled by Russia – Donetsk and Lugansk in the east as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhya in the south. To be captured by Moscow or not.
In Donetsk and Lugansk – which Putin recognized as independent Residents are answering whether they support “the republic’s accession to Russia” — just before Ukraine invaded in February, TASS reported.
Ballots in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya ask the question: “Are you in favor of separation from Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by region and joining the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation?”
Western countries rejected referendums in Kremlin-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine after Ukrainian and UN officials revealed what they said was more evidence of Russian “war crimes”.
Voting on whether Russia should annex these parts Ukraine’s own territory, opened on Friday, dramatically raises the stakes of a seven-month invasion of Moscow.
Even after voting began, however, Ukrainian forces said they were occupying the same land Russia wanted assimilation from Moscow-backed separatists.
US President Joe Biden vowed the cost would be “sharp and severe” if Russia followed suit and annexed the territories.
China, Russia’s closest ally since the start of the war, also acknowledged to Kyiv that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks to his Ukrainian counterpart Dimitro Kuleba at the UN General Assembly on Friday.