Fair And Legal Referendum At Gunpoint in Ukraine, Russian Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds: Say what you will about Russia, but they are performing feats of magic before the world’s eyes. How else could one explain voting by mail or electronically when the vast majority of occupied Ukrainian territory has neither electricity nor a postal service?
And the rushed Russian referendums that are taking place all over the occupied Ukrainian territories on the ground are proceeding at gunpoint. These “sham” referendums have already been dismissed by the West’s governments and are illegal under international law.
One Ukrainian official, Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region, described the referendum as “an opinion survey under the gun barrel,” as much of the voting was conducted house-to-house with armed Russian FSB agents wearing all black, with balaclavas covering their faces. The Russians watch the people filling out their ballots, leaving no doubt who they voted for and intimidating those who did to vote their way.
While many ask why the referendums are so important, it is that Russia will then annex the lands and any attack by Ukraine will be considered an attack on Russia itself. This will allow Russia to escalate the war to unprecedented levels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised address early on Wednesday, once again used the threat of nuclear weapons, saying he would use “all the means at our disposal,” if he deemed the “territorial integrity” of Russia to be threatened.
Yuri Sobolevsky, the first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, said “Electoral commissions accompanied by armed soldiers roam the region and continue to hunt voters.” He added that polling stations were empty, which is a testament to how the populace truly felt. The poll workers carry clear plastic containers that the votes are carried in and can be easily seen how each individual voter marked his/her ballot.
Ukrainians Flee En Masse Once Referendums Announced:
And as soon as ordinary Ukrainian citizens heard about the referendums, they voted with their feet, fleeing the occupied areas of the country, knowing that the results were going to be skewed in favor of Russia, regardless.
“We were waiting, hoping that the Ukrainian army would come, and the battle for our city would begin,” said Viktoria Yermoleny, 55 who fled Malitopol along with her husband and dog. “It’s all staged, and it’s all fake,” she added.
Some of their neighbors planned on hiding when Russian soldiers came around with officials in charge of collecting ballots. “But that’s not going to help anyway,” she said. “The Russians are just going to write the numbers that they need and be done with it.”
Another woman interviewed by PBR.com, Ninel Lysenko, 67, saw firsthand what the Russians did in 2014 and said it was a complete farce. “I mean, what can you do when they come to your home? How can you vote when they have guns?”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation that the votes would be “unequivocally condemned” by the world. “These are not just crimes against international law and Ukrainian law, these are crimes against specific people, against a nation,” Zelensky said.
The partial mobilization ordered by Putin to fight Ukraine earlier this week has not gone well either, the Washington Post cited reports of “draftees staggering around drunk”, fighting amongst each other, cursing and shouting at military officers, and more.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.