Russia Ukraine Dispute: Putin took this big step amid the Ukraine war, referendum to merge 15 percent of Ukrainian territory with Russia
A referendum has begun on the proposal of Ukraine's Luhansk, Donsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia regions to join Russia. The voting process that began on September 23 will continue till September 27. The Russian President made an announcement to this effect in his address to the nation on Wednesday. Ukraine and its allies in the West have condemned the referendum and called it illegal. This move by Russia is expected to worsen the situation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the liberation of Donbass (Luhansk and Donetsk provinces) the object of Russian military action. The process of annexing the Russian-speaking region with Russia through a referendum is taking place in the same way that Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia to stop the referendum. It has been warned of dire consequences.
Ukraine says people in the region are being threatened to vote in favor of the resolution. There are warnings of punishment for not voting to join Russia. 20 polling stations have been set up in Moscow for those who have fled to Russia from the referendum areas. Ukraine's conquered territories in which the referendum is being held account for 15 percent of the country's territory. It is home to Ukraine's main industrial area and a large amount of natural wealth. If Russia continues to occupy it, then Ukraine may have to suffer a big economic loss in the coming times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will not accept Russian occupation and fighting will continue until every inch of land is freed. While former Russian President and deputy head of the National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has said that nuclear weapons will also be deployed in areas joining Russia. Those trying to capture them will be dealt with full force. In his Wednesday address, Putin also hinted at the use of nuclear weapons if needed.