Senior officials in Kyiv have dismissed plans by several current and former Ukrainian regions to hold referendums on joining Russia as irrelevant.
Andrei Yermak, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, called the planned votes “blackmail” by Moscow. On the short message service Twitter, Yermak wrote in a post:
“This is what fear looks like. The enemy is afraid and uses primitive manipulations.”
Наївний шантаough «референдум в», «мобe і й хто вмhod воювати д д. Ворог боїться, примітивно маніпулює. Україна вирішить російське питання. Загрозу можливо ліквідувати лише силою.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) September 20, 2022
The head of the presidential office added that “Ukraine will solve the Russian question” and emphasized that this could be done “only with military force”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba also downplayed the news of the upcoming referendums, calling them “sham referendums” that “will not change anything”. He wrote on Twitter:
“Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will continue to do so no matter what Russia says.”
Sham ‘referendums’ will not change anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilization’. Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukrainian land. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) September 20, 2022
The condemnations and threats came in response to intentions by the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and the Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye to hold referendums on their accession to the Russian Federation. The referendums should already take place at the end of this week.
Kyiv had previously threatened to prosecute anyone taking part in such a plebiscite. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said that anyone taking part in such a referendum faces a prison sentence of five to ten years and their property may be confiscated.
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