Russia Claims Huge Majorities Voted for Annexation

Medvedev repeats nuclear threat, taunts NATO
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2022 6:49 PM CDT
Updated Sep 27, 2022 10:00 PM CDT
Russia Claims Huge Majorities Voted for Annexation
A woman votes at a polling station in Donetsk eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.   (AP Photo)

The results of the widely condemned referendums in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine are in—and according to Russian state media, all four regions voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia. State media said 98% voted in favor of the measure in Donetsk and Luhansk with 93% in favor in the Zaporizhzhia region and 87% in the Kherson region, NPR reports. Russian forces are not in full control of any of the four regions, but the vote paves the way for Moscow to claim the regions are Russian territory, which could dramatically escalate the war. Analysts say formal annexation could be announced as soon as Friday, when President Vladimir Putin is expected to address Russia's parliament about the referendums.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said Tuesday that Russia could use a nuclear weapon to defend its territory, including newly annexed areas, the Washington Post reports. "I have to remind you again—for those deaf who hear only themselves. Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary," he said, adding that NATO wouldn't dare to enter the conflict even if nuclear weapons were used against Ukrainian forces. "The demagogues across the ocean and in Europe are not going to die in a nuclear apocalypse," Medvedev said in a message on Telegram, per Reuters.

Western leaders including President Biden denounced the referendums as a sham. Many people had already fled the occupied areas during months of fighting and some of those who remained shared images of soldiers going door-to-door with ballot boxes, the AP reports. "A man toting an assault rifle comes to your home and asks you to vote, so what can people do?” said Vadym Boychenko, the exiled mayor of Mariupol. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN Security Council that the attempts to annex Ukrainian territory shows "there is nothing to talk about with this president of Russia." Zelensky said "any annexation in the modern world is a crime, a crime against all states that consider the inviolability of border to be vital for themselves." (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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