Occupation authorities announce referendum to join Russia in Zaporizhzhia

"Our country's position remains what it always has been. We will give up nothing of what is ours," Zelensky said

Updated: August 8, 2022 - 3:40pm

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Occupation authorities in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Oblast announced on Monday that they would hold a referendum on joining Russia, the latest in a string of such "votes" since Moscow launched its invasion in February.

Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine in February of this year, ostensibly to secure the Donbass breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are home to Russian-speaking majorities. The invasion, however, has gone beyond the separatist regions and Russian forces currently control most of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts in the Ukrainian South.

"The head of the Zaporozhye region signed a decree on holding a referendum on the reunification of the region with Russia," Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported via Telegram on Monday. Russia does not currently control the entirety of the Oblast. The Muscovite government bases itself in Melitopol while the city of Zaporizhzhia itself remains in Ukrainian hands. Russia positions, however, are within 20 miles of the city limits, according to LiveMaps.

Russia last organized a referendum on admitting an occupied territory in 2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the annexation of the Crimea. That referendum saw 97% of Crimeans back joining the Russian Federation, though international observers widely panned the vote as rigged.

Referendums in Zaporozhzhia and the Kherson Oblast, also likely to see an annexation vote, would complete a land route from the Crimea to the Russian mainland.

Ukraine's government meanwhile, has remained adamant that it will not cede any territory to the Russians as part of a peace deal, with President Volodymyr Zelensky telling Reuters on Sunday that "[o]ur country's position remains what it always has been. We will give up nothing of what is ours."

"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," he asserted.