Mykhailo Podolyak: Legally, there’s no referendum

Russia is suffering considerable military losses and is trying to rehabilitate its public image through referendums that have no legal force, says Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to him, the goal pursued by Russia is to declare the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye as its own territory and thus justify a potential nuclear response to further Ukrainian counteroffensives.

The so-called referendums are organized during September 23-27 in the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye. According to Russian media, election officials go door to door with mobile ballot boxes, while polling stations are not being opened for security reasons.

“From a legal point of view there is no referendum of any kind. It’s pure propaganda. These territories are the sovereign territories of Ukraine; it’s just that they are temporarily occupied, with active fighting going on. Any decision there may only concern military actions, and no legal procedure is legitimate. Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions are not even fully occupied, only some portions are occupied. Russia is experiencing considerable military failures, meaning it can no longer make military advances. Moreover, Ukraine is effectively counterattacking and liberating its territories”, stated Mykhailo Podolyak on Moldova 1.

By incorporating the four Ukrainian regions into Russia, Moscow could justify a potential nuclear attack, says the presidential adviser. Podolyak admits that Ukraine is preparing for an extremely difficult winter, but assures that the war will not be frozen, and the fighting will continue until a complete liberation of all territories.

“There is a nuclear power that attacks a non-nuclear state like Ukraine. This state tells us that on the portions of the occupied territory, it will hold a referendum that will not be recognized by anyone, it will say that this is Russian territory, and then it will threaten the whole world with nuclear weapons. It is totally absurd and completely destroys the universal model of world security. Russia is not fighting on the battlefield; it is striking at critical infrastructure. Every day there are attacks on thermal power plants, on public transport, or simply city centers are attacked. Ukraine understands that there is a very tough winter ahead, but there is a clear consensus in society that we must continue fighting, counterattack and liberate our territories”, the Ukrainian official pointed out.

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