Luhansk, an eastern Ukrainian rebel region backed by Russia, suggested on Sunday that it might hold a referendum to join Russia. This drew a warning from Kyiv, who warned that such a vote would not have legal foundation and could trigger a stronger international response.
Vladimir Putin recognized the rebel Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, and other parts of Ukraine three days before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, though the rest considers them part Ukraine.
Ukraine claims it is fighting for its existence in opposition to Russia’s imperial-style land grab. It has repeatedly stated that it will not accept Russia’s annexation its territory. This is the most difficult part of peace negotiations with Moscow.
According to the regional news outlet, Leonid Pasechnik (leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic) stated that he believes that a referendum would be held soon on the territory.
“The people will exercise their constitutional rights and voice their opinions on joining the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine claimed that such a referendum on occupied Ukrainian territory would not have a legal basis. Russia would also face strong international opposition, further increasing Russia’s isolation.
Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that all fake referendums held in temporarily occupied territories were null and void and would have no legal validity. He made the statement to Reuters.
“Russia will instead face a stronger response from international community, further enhancing its global isolation.”
Putin stated that he considered the “special military operation” necessary to defend Russia against the United States. He claimed that the United States was arming Ukraine and making it an “anti-Russian” in order to allow it to join NATO.
Russia claims that the operation was necessary to protect Russian-speaking populations from persecution by Ukraine’s government, which it accuses of being a puppet under Washington.
These claims, Ukraine asserts, are a pretext to an occupation. Moscow doesn’t understand Ukraine as a sovereign nation.
In 2014, Russian forces took control of Crimea. This was the first time that Russia annexed Crimea in 1783. A referendum was held to decide whether Russia should be joined. Voters overwhelmingly voted to join Russia. Ukraine claimed that the referendum was illegal, and that Crimea is part Ukraine.
Russia’s 2014 annexation by the West led to sanctions being imposed on it. Moscow claims that the majority of Crimea’s people wanted to join Russia.