Ukraine war: Russian-occupied areas hold ‘referendums’

Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine are staging so-called “referendums” on whether to join Russia, as Moscow pushes ahead with an apparent bid to annex territory from its neighbour.

Voting begins on Friday in four regions of Ukraine in which Russia has gained ground during its invasion.

Ukraine’s Western allies have denounced the move as a land grab and refused to recognise the results of the ballots.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was a “dangerous escalation”.

Mr Blinken told the UN Security Council on Thursday that no Russian claim to Ukrainian soil could take away Ukraine’s right to defend itself.

In his Thursday night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the ballots were a “sham” and undemocratic.

The snap votes were called earlier this week in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – as well as Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

The four regions represent around 15% of Ukraine, or an area the size of Hungary, according the Reuters news…

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