Ukrainian Region to Vote on Joining Russia

Zaporozhya Region secession could happen as early as mid-September.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia has signed a decree Monday to support Russia’s efforts to annex part of the neighboring nation. 
  • The region is considering a succession from Ukraine and petitioning to join Russia in the wake of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky ruling out further peace talks with Russia. 
  • The decision to begin the procedure was announced by Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the pro-Russian government in the area.
  • The region’s leadership announced the efforts at a pro-Moscow gathering called ‘We are with Russia’ held in Melitopol, the biggest city in Zaporizhzhia under Russian control.
  • An estimated two-thirds of Zaporizhzhia is under Russian occupation and most of their neighboring Kherson region is also under Russian control and discussing plans for a possible similar official change.
STATEMENTS FROM UKRAINE & ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION’S LEADERSHIP:
  • “I am signing the order for the central election committee to start the preparations for holding a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation,” Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the pro-Russia administration in the region said of the area’s move.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been holding firm against Russia, saying Sunday that peace talks would be impossible if they proceed with attempting to annex areas of Ukraine. 
  • “Our country’s position remains what it always has been. We will give up nothing of what is ours,” Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation. “If the occupiers proceed along the path of pseudo-referendums they will close for themselves any chance of talks with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will clearly need at some point.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Kherson and Zaporizhzhia officials who were chosen by the Kremlin had already launched a number of initiatives to reintegrate the seized territories with Russia and prepare the ground for a future referendum.
  • The Russian occupation authorities had begun issuing Russian passports to citizens in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia earlier this summer.
  • Additionally, Moscow has compelled Ukrainian educators in the controlled territories to teach according to the Russian curriculum, and “We are with Russia” signs have proliferated all over the occupied cities.
  • The pro-Russian administrations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have established regional “elections committees” that will be in charge of overseeing the referendums, a move that further indicates Moscow’s intentions.