VIDEO: Moscow-held regions of Ukraine vote whether to join Russia - GulfToday

VIDEO: Moscow-held regions of Ukraine vote whether to join Russia


A woman votes during a referendum in a mobile polling station in Mariupol, Donetsk People's Republic. AP

Gulf Today Report

Voting began on Friday in areas of Ukraine held by Moscow in referendums to join Russia, officials said.

Kremlin-orchestrated referendums widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as bogus without legal force, they are considered a step towards the annexation of the territories to Russia.

Voting takes place in Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, which are partly controlled by Russia.

Even in Kherson, which is almost entirely controlled by Moscow, voting began on Friday morning.

Separatist leader of the Moscow-backed authorities in the Donetsk region Denis Pushilin called the referendum a "historic milestone."

The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, will certainly go in favour of Moscow.

This would give Russia a pretext to claim the Ukrainian forces' attempts attacks on Russia itself, which greatly escalated the 7-month conflict, are regaining control.

The referendums follow President Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization order, which could add some 300,000 Russian troops to the fight.

Voting will continue for five days until Tuesday next week.

According to Russian officials based in the occupied areas, who cited security reasons, in the first four days election officials will bring ballots to people's homes and set up makeshift polling stations near residential buildings.

Tuesday will be the only day when the voters will be invited to come to regular polls.

Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from the occupied regions can cast their votes.

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