The Kremlin does not yet refuse to hold so-called "referendums" on the accession of the occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia in September, but they planned that by that time the Russian army would already capture the entire Donetsk region. Now they are even ready to postpone the pseudo-voting for the winter.
The Russian publication "Meduza" writes about this with reference to its own sources.
As of August 18, Russia occupied about 60% of Donetsk oblast. The Kremlin still wants to hold "referendums" on September 11, on the Single Voting Day in Russia. However, they previously believed that by that time, the Russian army would be in complete control of Donetsk oblast for some time.
Currently, the Kremlin is considering another option — to hold "referendums" after all, but in those territories that will be occupied as of September 11. In case of further advance of Russian troops, captured cities and villages will "automatically" join Russia.
Sources assure that the Kremlin does not want to postpone the pseudo-voting again because, at the beginning of the invasion, they were planned to be held in the spring. However, the Russian authorities are already preparing a backup option with the postponement of the "referendums" to the winter — the heads of the occupation administrations have already started talking about the need to hold a pseudo-vote immediately in all captured territories, in particular in the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The Russian authorities plan that by December-January, the Russian army will be able to completely occupy Donetsk oblast and not lose control over other territories. Sources of the publication say that such an option is becoming "increasingly likely." However, the Kremlin also notes that the postponement of the "referendums" will have a negative impact on the mood of Russians who support the war. "People will understand that something is not working out, calculations are not being confirmed. They may consider it a weakness," the sources said.
According to the media, the final decision on the date of the "referendums" will be made personally by Putin in the near future. Those responsible for organizing pseudo-voting are ready to conduct them at any time.
- In July, the mass media reported that Russia was in a hurry to hold "referendums" on the annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine by September 15 so that Putin could then annex them to Russia.
- The day before, the city council of Kherson reported that the occupiers had launched active preparations for a pseudo-eferendum for joining Kherson oblast to Russia and were "training" the local population. In August, the SBU intercepted the occupiersʼ documents about the "referendum" in Kherson oblast. Pickets and 20 "election commissions" are planned there.
- President Zelenskyi said on August 7 that pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories will make negotiations with Russia impossible.