Ukraine to hold referendum on secession, join Russia

Ukraine to hold referendum on secession, join Russia

The announcement was made on Monday at the forum Together with Russia.

The head of the administration of the Zaporozhye Region has announced on Monday that the region will hold a referendum on whether to secede from Ukraine and request to join Russia.

Evgeny Balitskiy said that he had signed an order to organize the plebiscite at a regional forum held in the city of Melitopol. Over 700 representatives from various parts of the Ukrainian region approved the idea, according to RIA Novosti.

The referendum may be held as early as September, according to administration officials.

Russian forces took partial control of the region during the initial offensive against Ukraine launched in late February. The eponymous city in the north of the Dnepr River remains under Ukrainian control.

Several Russian officials in Kherson Region, another Russia-controlled part of Ukraine, said they wanted to vote on the proposal to break away from Kiev and join Russia.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky warned that Kiev would break off all talks with Russia if the two regions go through with their plans. Moscow suggested that the Ukrainian president should address the citizens of those regions.

This is what the residents of the region plan to do. It's not like Russia is holding a referendum. Here, apparently, it is necessary to understand who Zelensky is talking about, to the citizens of Ukraine of the mentioned regions or to the citizens of Russia? If it is to the people and leadership of Russia, then we are the wrong address," Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said on Monday.

There have been no peace talks between Russia and Ukraine for months, as Kiev rejected such contacts and claimed it would only negotiate after defeating Russian troops on the battlefield with the help of Western military aid.

Before the talks broke off, both nations appeared to have made progress in resolving their differences. Kiev had pledged to be a neutral country and accept restrictions on its military during a meeting in Istanbul in late March. The Russians said it prepared a draft peace agreement based on those proposals, but Ukraine never responded.

An indirect Russian-Ukrainian deal was mediated last month by the UN and Turkey to allow grain exports from three Ukrainian ports to resume via the Black Sea. The scheme was formalized in two separate agreements that were signed by Russia and Ukraine with the other two parties.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by France and Germany, were first signed in 2014. The former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and create powerful armed forces. In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked.