Donbass republics reveal date of votes on joining Russia
Referendums to join the Russian Federation will be held in the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) from September 23 to 27, the leaders of the states announced on Tuesday.
LPR head Leonid Pasechnik was the first to sign a law on “holding a public referendum in the republic on the inclusion of the region into the Russian Federation,” after its parliament unanimously supported the move and set a date for the vote.
The LPR’s decision was soon followed by DPR leader Denis Pushilin, who declared that his state would also be holding a similar referendum on the same date. Pushilin said he had already introduced the relevant legislation in the DPR’s parliament.
Russia recognised the two territories as independent in February, but most of the world still regards them as part of Ukraine. However, Kiev lost de facto control of both in 2014, when the local populations rejected the outcome of the Western-backed Maidan coup.
In a letter addressed to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pushilin urged the latter to consider incorporating the DPR in the territory of the Russian Federation if people approve the unification during the plebiscite.
“The long-suffering people of Donbass deserve to be part of the Great Country, which they have always considered their Motherland. This event will be the restoration of historical justice, the onset of which millions of Russian people crave,” he wrote.
The announcement of the referendum comes after the civic chamber of the LPR urged republic’s leaders on Monday to “immediately” hold a vote on joining Russia, stating that it was important to expedite the process and hold a vote as soon as possible.
“The events of recent days have shown that the Kiev nationalists have crossed all the red lines,” said the deputy head of the chamber, Lina Vokalova, pointing to the relentless shelling of the LPR’s civilian population.
She also recalled that the people of Donbass had already made their choice back in 2014, when the first “self-determination referendum” to secede from Kiev’s rule took place. “All these years we have been waiting and believing that the second one will definitely follow, which will fulfill our dream of returning home – to the Russian Federation,” Vokalova added.
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 Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. 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 officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.