Moscow, Sep 27 (EFE).- Russia’s priority is to offer “salvation” to residents of the Donbas and other Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin claimed Tuesday.
The Russian leader’s remarks came as a series of referendums asking residents whether they want to be absorbed by Russia came to a close in a process dismissed by Kyiv and its Western allies as a sham.
“In the current circumstances of the ‘special military operation’ and the referendums being held in Donbas, rescuing people across the territories (…) where this referendum is being held has been foremost, it has been in the focus of our entire society nationwide,” said Putin in a meeting with public officials.
According to the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the situation in these regions will change in the upcoming days after the results of the referendum.
“Naturally, the situation will change radically in terms of international law. It will have ramifications for the purposes of protecting these territories and ensuring security there,” Peskov told reporters in his daily conference.
He then added that the intensity of the bombing in these regions, “will depend on Ukraine.”
The referendums are to end on Tuesday after five days of voting in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, swathes of which are occupied by Russian forces.
Peskov added that Russia had prepared legislation for the annexation of the regions.
After all the polls close and the counting ends, formal annexation procedures may take place as early as Friday, according to Russian news agency TASS.
Pro-Russian authorities in the occupied regions of Ukraine reported Tuesday that early indications on the votes suggested that more than 97% of the voters approved to join Russia.
Kyiv and much of the international community has discredited the voting in the Russian-held regions.
The United Nations, the European Union and the United States have declared that they will not recognize the results and have threatened to impose additional sanctions on Russia if Moscow formalizes the move.
Ukraine’s government has declared that they will not accept the results and they are to maintain their strategy on the battlefield.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter, “We are capable of defending ourselves. If the West falters and chooses appeasement, we will still defend ourselves, our right to exist and choose our own future.” EFE