Russia Planning Referendum In Ukraine ‘Breakaway Republic’, Says UK Government

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said any poll in Kherson would be "recognised for what it is — a fake".
People protest against the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in Kherson on Sunday March 13, 2022.
People protest against the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in Kherson on Sunday March 13, 2022.
Artem Ivanov via PA Media

Russia is planning to stage another “fake” referendum in Ukraine in an attempt to justify its invasion, the British government has said.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the Kremlin was planning to hold a poll in Kherson, southern Ukraine, in a bid to legitimise it as a “breakaway republic” similar to Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow-backed rebels held referendums in the Donbas in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, a move Ukraine branded a “criminal farce”.

Ever since Vladimir Putin has sought to play up support for Russia in the region and beyond as a means to justify military intervention in Ukraine.

His decision to recognise Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics in February was interpreted as his first declaration of war in Ukraine.

In a tweet this morning, the MOD warned: “Reporting suggests that Russia may seek to stage a “referendum” in Kherson in an attempt to legitimise the areas as a “breakaway republic” similar to donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.

“Further protests were reported in the city yesterday with Russian forces reportedly firing warning shots in an attempt to disperse peaceful protestors.”

Responding to the intelligence update on Tuesday morning, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly warned that any similar poll in Kherson would be a “faux, a fake election... that would be recognised for exactly what it is”.

He told Sky News: “Well, it’s quite clear that Vladimir Putin’s original intention was to have a kind of a lightning war, a very fast war to capture Ukraine, take Kyiv and instil install a puppet government — that is clearly not working.

“They’re failing in those military aims.

“So it’s now quite obvious that Vladimir Putin and the Russian military are attempting some form of legitimacy or justification for their military actions.

“The UK is completely clear. Ukraine is a sovereign territory they have a right to protect their own borders.

“A fake, a faux election to try and justify Russia’s aggression to Ukraine will be recognised for exactly what it is, and that is a fake.

“What we are calling upon Russia to do, what we’re calling on Putin to do, is to end this war and end it immediately.”

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