Voting concluded Tuesday in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on a referendum, with 99.23% choosing reunification with Russia, according to the final results approved by the DPR’s Central Election Commission, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported.
Shortly before the announcement of the final vote count, the UN’s political chief said that Russian-backed referendums in Ukraine’s occupied territories are “not a genuine expression of popular will” or “legal” under international law.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also slammed the referendums in a speech to a session of the UN Security Council. He said Ukraine will continue to defend its people in annexation vote regions.
Some 98.42% of voters in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Luhansk region voted in favor of joining Russia, said the head of the election commission of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).
Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed LPR, will turn to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask him to consider folding the region into Russia.
Meanwhile, 87.05% of voters in Ukraine’s Kherson region voted in favor of joining Russia, according to preliminary results announced by the region’s so-called election committee.
Some 93.11% of voters in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region supported joining Russia, Russian state media reported, citing preliminary results.
The referendums have been widely condemned by the international community, with European nations and the US terming them a “sham” and saying they will not be recognized.
The United States was also preparing a new round of sanctions against Russia should it annex Ukrainian territory and a $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine that will be announced soon, the US officials said.
Hastily arranged votes took place over five days in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson to the south, that together make up about 15% of Ukrainian territory.
The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament said the chamber might consider annexation on Octomber 4.
“The results are clear. Welcome home, to Russia!,” Dmitry Medvedev, a former president who serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Telegram.
The United States will introduce a resolution at the UN Security Council calling on member states not to recognize any change to Ukraine and obligating Russia to withdraw its troops, US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the United States and its allies remained committed to European energy security, after Germany, Sweden and Denmark said attacks caused major leaks from two Russian energy pipelines. It remained unclear who might be behind the leaks.