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Ukrainian occupied regions push votes to join Russia following counter-offensives


On Monday, Ukrainian officials said their forces had liberated a village in Luhansk, depriving Russia of full control of the region.

The village lies just 7 miles west of the town of Lysychansk, which saw weeks of heavy fighting between the two sides before falling to Russian troops this summer.

NBC News has not verified the claim.

“Russian leaders may lack the wherewithal to try to stop Ukrainian forces as they cross the Oskil River and close in on Lugansk Oblast,” the Institute for the Study of War added in its assessment. of Monday. “The Kremlin may believe that a partial annexation could lead to the recruitment of additional forces, both inside Russia and inside newly annexed Ukrainian territory.”

So far, Putin has resisted calls from nationalist voices and pro-military bloggers for general mobilization, a move that could bolster his struggling forces but could prove unpopular with the Russian public and come across as an admission that his campaign in Ukraine is failing.

One of the Kremlin’s most hawkish figures, former President Dmitry Medvedev, said on Monday holding the referendums was “of great importance”, while warning that absorbing the Donbass provinces would be tantamount to encroaching on them such as hitting Russia, increasing the risk of further escalation if Ukrainian troops continue to advance in the region.

“They want to return the Russian territories proper so that they can then threaten nuclear blackmail,” said Chatham House’s Lutsevych.

The editor of the Kremlin-backed RT channel, Margarita Simonyan, who has been one of the war’s most vocal supporters, also invoked the idea of ​​red lines, saying that holding referendums immediately and without time was essential.

“Today – a referendum, tomorrow – recognition as a member of the Russian Federation, the day after tomorrow – strikes on the territory of Russia become a full-fledged war between Ukraine and NATO with the Russia, untying Russia’s hands in all respects,” she said in a message on Telegram.

The news of the planned referendums was sentenced by Kyiv.

“Dummy ‘referendums’ won’t change anything,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will continue to liberate them no matter what Russia says,” he added. said in a tweet.

The head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, said the referendums were part of “naive blackmail” by Russia.

“This is what the fear of defeat looks like,” Yermak wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.




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