Referendums conducted in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine overwhelmingly favored joining Russia, which will happen in an event scheduled for Friday. After Russian President Vladimir Putin signs annexation agreements, the territories will be considered sovereign soil by the Russians.
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said Wednesday that Russia is not threatening anyone but is ready to defend its sovereignty with all available weapons. His remarks are another veiled reference to the possible first-strike use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
“What is so aggressive about this statement?” asked the Russian diplomat. “Would the United States not do the same if faced with an existential threat?” “I would like to add that certain American politicians are under a delusion if they think that our readiness to defend our territory does not apply to Crimea or to territories that may become part of Russia on the basis of a free expression of popular will,”
Fox News further reported:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday the ceremony would take place in Moscow “on agreements on the accession of new territories into the Russian Federation,” first reported Reuters.
The “agreement” will apparently be signed “with all four territories that held referendums and made corresponding requests to the Russian side,” he added.
Moscow-installed regionals officials from Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaphorizhzhia and Kherson are expected to represent the four regions after claiming to have achieved a monumental show of support for Russia’s illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory.
Polls close Tuesday following five days of voting organized by Russian proxies who have claimed to have garnered 93 percent of civilian support in Zaporizhzhia, 87 percent in Kherson, 98 percent in Luhansk and 99 percent in Donetsk.
Western officials have repeatedly rejected the referenda and have pointed to the last move by Russia to annex parts of Ukraine when it held a 2014 vote in Crimea and claimed that some 97 percent of Crimeans supported leaving Ukraine.
Reporting later showed the election had been falsified with only 30 percent of Crimeans even voting in the proceedings and with just 15 percent backing the peninsula’s annexation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week accused the Kremlin of bussing in Russians to vote in the referenda and Ukrainian officials over the weekend reported coercive tactics involving intimidation to force Ukrainian’s to vote.
Annexing the four eastern and southern regions means Russia will begin to claim another 15 percent of Ukraine as Russian territory.
Moscow has repeatedly said it will consider an attack on the regions, where heavy fighting has persisted for seven months, as an attack on Russia itself – leaving some defense officials concerned that Russia could resort to even more aggressive tactics like nuclear escalation.
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