Will Moscow-held regions of Ukraine become part of Russia? Referendum begins
Russia Ukraine news: The separatist or Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on Friday started voting on the referendum to join Russia. The development came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military mobilization of Russian citizens. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine had earlier declared they will be voting on whether to join Russia or not. Apart from these two regions, the votes are being held in the partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia region.
The referendums follow President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization, which could add some 300,000 Russian troops to the fight. The Kremlin-orchestrated referendums, which have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams without any legal force, are seen as a step toward annexing the territories by Russia.
The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, is certain to go Moscow’s way. That would give Russia the pretext to claim that attempts by Ukrainian forces to regain control are attacks on Russia itself, dramatically escalating the 7-month-old conflict.
Meanwhile, many men fit for military roles were seen thronging airports in Russia attempting to leave the country. Protests also erupted in Russia after Putin's order of mobilization.
Putin's announcement is considered a deeply unpopular move. The risky order follows humiliating setbacks for Putin’s troops nearly seven months after they invaded Ukraine. The first such call-up in Russia since World War II heightened tensions with Ukraine’s Western backers, who derided it as an act of weakness and desperation.
After Putin's order, Russians went scrambling to buy plane tickets to flee the country. Visuals released on social media showcased protesters out on the streets, chanting "no to war". Videos from the protest areas show cops trying to keep a mob at Isakiivskiy Cathedral behind barriers, amid slogans of no mobilisation.
(With AP Inputs)
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