Russia has started sham referendums to annex the occupied provinces of Ukraine

Russia has started sham referendums to annex the occupied provinces of Ukraine

Russia has launched farce referendums to annex the occupied territories of Ukraine in the provinces of Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia (where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located) and Donetsk, about 15% of the entire area of ​​the country. The voting, which will take place between Friday 23 and Tuesday 27 September, will take place in a state of war, with an ongoing military occupation and no presence of international observers to verify the correctness of the process.

For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine began, Russian leader Vladimir Putin faces the serious prospect of losing the war. The initial setbacks around Kyiv and Chernigov, balanced by a Russian advance south and east, could be justified as tactical retreats and therefore as Russian choices, regardless of whether they really were. In contrast, the defeat of Russian soldiers in the Kharkiv region on 10 September - and the rapid recapture by Ukrainian forces of more than 3,000 square kilometers of territory to the east and south - showed Ukraine's military superiority and opened up the possibility of future defeats. of the troops of Moscow.

The dynamics of the invasion changed rapidly in the phases immediately following the Ukrainian counter-offensive. Within a week, Putin launched both referendums in the occupied areas and a "partial" mobilization, which seems more like a compulsory constituency of the entire population.

The referendums The mobilization Risks for minorities Putin launched a partial mobilization of military forces Approximately 300,000 specialized reservists with military experience will be called back into service. For many it is proof that Russia is losing the war but does not want peace


According to Reuters Serhiy Gaidai, Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, said that in the city of Bilovodsk, in the hands of the Russians , the head of a company would have told employees that the referendum is mandatory and that those who refused to vote would be fired and their names handed over to the security services. While in the city of Starobilsk, Russian authorities reportedly banned the population from leaving the city until Tuesday, and armed groups were sent to search homes and force people out to participate in the referendum.

The propaganda of the The Kremlin is selling this operation as a way to allow people to decide their own future. But it is an obligatory decision, which will have little free or verifiable, since the seats are controlled by a foreign army and the people forced to live in a state of war. Rather, it looks more like a replica of the 2014 referendum in Crimea, which Moscow will be able to use as a pretext for new military actions.

Indeed, by incorporating the four areas into Russia, Putin could justify further military escalation, as needed. to defend Russia's "territorial integrity", as said by the autocratic leader in a message to the nation on Wednesday 21 September, during which he also launched the "partial" mobilization of reservists.

Protests and escapes in Russia against Putin's mobilization, far from partial More than 1,300 people were arrested in protests against the invasion of Ukraine that broke out in 38 cities. Many are trying to leave the country


So far the invasion of Ukraine has not even been presented as a war on the majority of the Russian population, but has always been called a "special military operation". However, by launching the mobilization, the Kremlin decided to change its rhetoric and the perception of public opinion, officially launching itself, even at home, in a great war against the West.

However, this is a dangerous choice. Training of soldiers takes time, and Russia should increase military resources and equipment. Furthermore, by forcibly enlisting many Russians who have no interest in fighting, the mobilization could exacerbate rather than solve the morale problems of the Russian army, as well as internal unrest. In fact, for many Russians, thanks to propaganda and effective geographical distance, the invasion of Ukraine truly represented a special operation, to be left to specialists. The mobilization brought the drama of the war directly into the daily life of the inhabitants of all of Russia.

"It is not a partial mobilization, it is a 100% mobilization," Alexandra Garmazhapova, president of the Republic of Buryatia Free Buryatia Foundation regional autonomy group, told the Guardian. and his colleagues have received and identified more than 3,000 reports of povestka, the Russian term for call-to-arms alert, delivered in Buryatia within 24 hours of the mobilization announcement. Activists reported how the warnings arrived. to people aged 50 or over, despite assurances that the draft would only affect people with "recent" military experience, and to people with no military experience, such as the 38-year-old husband of journalist Yanina Nimayeva, interviewed by the Guardian.

The war of the poor: identikit of the soldiers that Putin sends to Ukraine The soldiers deployed by the Kremlin for the invasion come from the poorest areas of the Ru ssia. And there is a reason, or rather different, behind this choice

Risks for minorities

Furthermore, despite Putin declared directly nationally that the compulsory conscription would only concern 300 thousand units, the actual number contained in the decree of leverage has remained secret and no one knows how much it really amounts. Many think it may be far higher, such as the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe, according to which a presidential administration source reported about 1 million people. This news, however, has not been confirmed by other news outlets.

However, videos and testimonies on social media, from all over Russia have shown large enlistments even in small cities, suggesting that the numbers may be decidedly higher than the official ones. Furthermore, from the videos and testimonies, it appears that much of the recruitment is taking place in Russian republics populated by ethnic minorities, such as Buryatia, reinforcing the feeling that the Kremlin is disproportionately relying on these minorities to fight in Ukraine. In fact, most of the soldiers already employed and already dead during the invasion came from the most remote regions of Russia.

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