Start of annexation referendums by Russia in four Ukrainian regions | War in Ukraine

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Russian annexation referendums begin in four Ukrainian regions | War in Ukraine

A boy wearing a t-shirt with the letter Z, a symbol of support for the Russian military, holds a flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Referendums of Russia Annexation by Russia began on Friday in areas of Ukraine wholly or partly controlled by Moscow, while kyiv claimed further advances by its army in the east of the country.

Voting, which started at 5 a.m. (local time), will end on September 27 in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (east), and in areas under Russian occupation in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. (south).

These votes have been in preparation for months, but the timetable seems to have accelerated with the Ukrainian counter-offensive. Residents of the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have already declared their independence, must speak out about their desire to integrate with Russia.

In the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, partially occupied by Russian forces, the question is to secede from Ukraine to become part of Russia.

The ballot is done in particular door-to-door, with pro-Russian officials going to buildings with mobile ballot boxes to get the population to vote, according to Russian media images. Authorities claimed it was a security measure.

Hundreds of polling stations are open in the four territories, and others in Russia to allow displaced people to vote.

Russian television broadcast images of voters voting in mobile ballot boxes in building halls or courtyards.

A woman displays a banner in front of a polling station in the Donetsk region.

We hope that after the referendum, the bombing of us will stop, that we will have peace and order, the president said. AFP Vladimir Chotov, originally from the Luhansk region and who came to vote at the Donetsk representation in Moscow.

Organized in haste, these referendums were denounced by the Ukrainian government and its Western supporters, Moscow wanting to take control of whole sections of Ukraine, like the Crimean peninsula in 2014. /p>

Without going so far as to denounce the elections, China, Moscow's closest partner, nevertheless went there with its criticism, calling for respect for the environment. territorial integrity.

A sign of this approach, a surprise meeting took place in New York on Friday between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kouleba.

The annexation of these four areas is an attempt by Russia to regain control after its military defeats.

In early September, a dazzling counter-offensive enabled Ukrainian forces to retake the Kharkiv region in the northeast.

On Friday, Ukraine also claimed the capture of Yatskivka on the eastern bank of the Oskil River in the Donetsk region, which seems to confirm the continued advance of kyiv forces.

She also says she advanced south of Bakhmout, an eastern town that the Russian army has been trying to take for months without success.

The situation in the northeast is extremely difficult, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin admitted on Thursday evening, noting that there are large forces ready to go on the counteroffensive.

A soldier of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic slips his ballot into the ballot box.

In the Luhansk region, Andrei Marochko, representing the pro-Russian military, reported on Ukrainian bombardments and noted that the forces of kyiv want to do everything to derail the referendum.< /p>Start of the widget. Skip the widget? End of the widget. Back to the beginning of the widget?

The hasty announcement of the polls was accompanied by that, on Wednesday, by Mr. Putin to decree the immediate mobilization of at least 300,000 reservists.

In images posted on social networks and claiming to show the mobilization in a locality of Yakutia, in Siberia, men with closed faces kissed their relatives before boarding a bus .

In another video posted by the popular Telegram channel Mash, a line of men stand in front of a troop transport plane on a tarmac at night.

Joined by l& #x27;AFP, Konstantin, 29, says he received his summons to his parents' home in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southwestern Russia, 120 km from the Ukrainian border.

I'm still in shock, he says. I'm not going to hide, but I'm not jumping for joy either.

Others were given summonses after being arrested during anti-mobilization protests on Wednesday.

I was expecting the usual [procedures]: the arrest, the police station, the court. But being told: “Tomorrow you are going to war”, […] that was a surprise, told AFP Mikha├»l Souetine, 29, who refused to sign the document.

Cars line up to enter the Brusnichnoye checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish border.

The announcement of the mobilization also convinced many Russians to leave the country, although we cannot quantify the extent of the phenomenon.

Kazakhstan border guards reported an influx at the border and assured that the situation was under special control. On social networks, images are circulating showing long queues of cars at various borders of the country.

A person interviewed by AFP on condition of anonymity said said to have waited 8 hours to enter Kazakhstan, another 12 hours to reach Mongolia.

Finland has reported a doubling of entries at the Russian border since the announcement of mobilization.

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