Putin’s sham referenda in Ukraine will make it difficult for him to survive30 September 2022 Editorial Desk
The world, including President Vladimir Putin himself, knows that the Moscow-orchestrated "referendums" in the four partially occupied Ukrainian regions are more fake than the March 2014 Crimea's plebiscite which led to the Ukraine Peninsula's annexation by Russia. Although Russia is trying to repeat the Crimean plebiscite to annex more of Ukraine regions, analysts think this trick will fail as people of Russia will pay scant attention this time. The world also will not recognise this fake vote as it did not yet acknowledge the Crimean land grab.
The hastily arranged vote of the partially occupied Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions was conducted over a period of five days that ended on Tuesday with Russian soldiers reportedly going house to house to ensure residents participated, a move which the Ukrainian officials denounced as voting at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Russia's state news agency Tass reported that 98.23 per cent people of Donetsk region voted for reunification with Russia, while some 98.42 per cent voters in Luhansk, 87.05 per cent in Kherson and 93.11 per cent in Zaporizhzhia regions supported joining Russia.
President Putin has been in power for more than two decades and during that time has carefully cultivated an image of him as a tough, strongman leader, fighting for Russia's interests and reinstating the country as a geopolitical and economic superpower. But with his decision to invade neighbouring Ukraine, analysts say Putin has made the biggest mistake of his political career and has weakened Russia for years to come. He is using the referendum and the threat of nuclear weapons to dissuade continued support for Ukraine but they ponder it would not work.
According to transnational media reports, Putin will sign the accession documents in the next week to give himself a "present" on his 70th birthday on October 7. However, the Kremlin has no choice but to swiftly proclaim the occupied Ukrainian regions as Russian territory, then massively deploy the newly called up reservists there. Without them, holding on to these
lands is very problematic for Russia. So, hundreds of thousands of families are being compelled to send off their unprepared men to war and very likely die. However, many thousands more are hastily trying to escape to Europe crossing over borders.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed the referendums in a speech to a session of the UN Security Council which he joined via video link. The Ukrainians will not withdraw from Donetsk and the other three regions. Thus Putin will have to either push them back with conventional warfare or live up to his promise of using short-range battlefield nuclear weapons. This will entail a US response with "horrific" consequences, as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this recently. The US is preparing a new round of sanctions to punish Russia for the annexation move and a $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine that will be announced soon.
The Crimean plebiscite of 2014 was a spectacle staged after the broken away of the USSR. But in 2022, the situation is entirely different. Putin's "referendum" ruse today looks like a half-hearted attempt to show strength and resolve when both are visibly lacking. No matter how long the war will continue, these fake votes will be forgotten tomorrow.
Accession of parts of Ukraine is against UN Charter and international law. It is a desperate attempt to save Putin himself at the heavy cost of Russia. Now the Western countries have the justifiable reason to involve themselves for the threat of use of nuclear weapon holding out by Putin. Russia itself is in turmoil against Putin. This is madness of dictatorship. It is our hope that the Russian people will save themselves the best way they can.