- Controversial “Local Elections” in Russian-Occupied Ukraine Regions
- International Condemnation and Skepticism Surrounding the Elections
- Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive and Struggles for Western Military Support
Ukraine’s foreign minister called the polls a “sham”, saying the votes would not have any legal validity.
All candidates are either Russian or pro-Russian, including governors selected by Moscow.
Many early voters were required to submit their ballots in the presence of armed Russian soldiers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the elections, stating, “Russia’s sham elections in occupied areas of Ukraine are illegitimate.” This prompted the Russian embassy in the United States to accuse Washington of interfering in Moscow’s internal affairs.
Together, they comprise approximately 15 percent of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.
Some stations are located in residential backyards and even on street benches, in addition to schools and administrative structures.
Photos depict voters depositing ballots into boxes ostensibly under the surveillance of heavily armed, balaclava-clad soldiers. Several photographs depicted the insertion of ballots into clear plastic ballot boxes, with the votes visible.
The commission reports that voter turnout for so-called regional parliaments in Kherson and Donetsk exceeded 50% and 40%, respectively.
There are no independent observers present to verify these elections, and the final vote tally has not been made public.
Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of the city of Melitopol, characterized the elections as “illegal and pointless,” claiming that many candidates in the Zaporizhzhia region were not locals, with some even hailing from Siberia in the far east of Russia.
He told the AP news agency that security in the city had increased in recent days and that residents were intimidated because voting in an occupied city was comparable to “voting in prison.”
The world community called these referendums illegitimate, citing reports of almost 99 percent support for Moscow’s takeover.
Since January, Russia has prohibited the use of Ukrainian currency in the occupied territories.
Moscow has announced that it will deploy its mobile networks and renovate institutions. However, as recently as August, Russian authorities acknowledged that only about 20 percent of schools in these regions had been reconstructed, and its regular mobile networks are conspicuously absent from occupied territories.
In a rare occurrence, Ukrainians have been permitted to vote using their Ukrainian passports. This may be because a substantial number have not adopted Russian nationality.
Ukrainian generals assert that they have breached Russia’s formidable first line of defense in that region, indicating that the counteroffensive in that region is about to acquire momentum.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in the United States describe recent advances as “tactically significant” and as “widening the Ukrainian breach of Russian defensive lines in the area and endangering Russian secondary lines of defense.”
The focal point of Ukraine’s endeavors has been the village of Robotyne, which is located approximately 56 kilometers (35 miles) south-southeast of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital.
Kyiv wants to cut Russian supply routes keeping Moscow’s military in southern Kherson.
However, on Friday, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated that Moscow’s air superiority was impeding the counter-offensive and that armament deliveries and sanctions against Russia were becoming “complicated and slower”
Since last year, Ukraine has pushed strongly for American-made F-16 fighter jets to counter Russia’s advantage in the skies. Several vessels have been guaranteed, but it will likely be months before Kyiv can utilize them.
Kyiv has relied on Western military equipment worth billions of dollars to go on the offensive and has acknowledged that progress through the heavily fortified Russian defenses has been slower than desired.
President Zelensky compared his forces’ advance with the pace of Western support, saying: “When some partners say: so what about the counter-offensive, when will the next step be? My response: Today, our actions are more prompt than the new sanctions.”