Ukrainians 'Voted' For Russian Annexation In Sham Referendums
The proxies in Moscow-held territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts have claimed that nearly all residents voted in favor of joining Russia.
Photo Insert: Russian-backed rebels go on patrol in armored fighting vehicles.
Moscow seeks to use sham referendums, held at gunpoint and despite international outrage between Sept. 23 and 27, to illegally annex Ukrainian lands, as it did in Crimea in 2014, Kyiv Independent.
Ukrainian officials said the "referendums" were held under coercive conditions, with Russian soldiers carrying weapons doing house calls to force Ukrainian citizens to vote.
Russia's state-controlled news outlet Ria Novosti claimed, citing proxies, that 99% voted in favor of joining Russia in Donetsk Oblast, as well as 98% in Luhansk Oblast, 87% in Kherson Oblast and 93% in Zaporizhzhia region.
Critics stressed that only Russians voted and as many as 80% of Ukrainians in the four regions made themselves scarce.
Russian proxies closed Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region for exiting citizens and threatened them with being sent to the frontline if they leave.
Russian troops have banned residents from leaving the city and are threatening people who voted against joining Russia in the sham referendum with mobilization, Ukraine's Defense Ministry reported on Sept. 27.
"There are Russian patrols on the streets handing out 'ballots' for the 'referendum,'" the report reads. "They point weapons at people, give them these 'ballots' and tell exactly which box to check."
While Russian troops were shepherding coerced residents to participate in the bogus referendum, Ukrainian troops were shooting down six Russian warplanes and three helicopters and destroying more than 30 tanks in the Donbas region, with 550 Russian troops, including those from the Wagner Group, being killed in action on Sept. 27.