Dmitry Medvedev, the hawkish long-term ally of Vladimir Putin, has suggested that the self-proclaimed separatist regions of eastern Ukraine should hold referendums as soon as possible to join the Russian Federation, a media report said.
Medvedev said: "Referendums in the Donbas are essential, not only for the systematic protection of residents of the LPR, DPR and other liberated territories but also for the restoration of historic justice," The Guardian reported.
He argued that incorporating the occupied areas of Ukraine into Russia would change the dynamic of the war, saying: "After their implementation and the acceptance of new territories into Russia, the geopolitical transformation in the world will become irreversible. Encroachment on the territory of Russia is a crime, the commission of which allows you to use all the forces of self-defense. This is why these referendums are so feared in Kyiv and the west. This is why they need to be carried out," The Guardian reported.
Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's security council, is referring here to concerns that should referendums be staged and produce a "yes" vote for areas like Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia joining Russia, that would in effect make any attempts to take back Ukrainian territory a direct attack on Russia itself, The Guardian reported.
The Russian-controlled part of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region may stage a referendum to join Russia in the coming days, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a local Russian-installed official.
It comes as Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was up to the people living in separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine if they wanted to hold referendums on joining Russia, The Guardian reported.
"From the very beginning ... we've been saying that the peoples of the respective territories should decide their fate," Lavrov said on state TV when asked about several coordinated moves by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine on Tuesday to stage votes on joining Russia. (KB/IANS)