Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that negotiations with Russia will not be possible if Russia holds referendums in the occupied areas of his country, reports Hina.
After a report by the British Ministry of Defense, which assessed that the authorities installed by Russia in the occupied territories in the south of Ukraine are probably preparing to hold referendums on joining Russia this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that there will be no more negotiations with Russia if that happens.
In its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter, the ministry said “occupation authorities in Ukraine” are under increasing pressure from Moscow to consolidate control.
“Local authorities are probably forcing the population to provide personal information in order to compile voter lists,” the ministry said.
It is added that Russia currently considers the occupied territories in Ukraine to be under temporary “civil-military administration”.
Russian forces and their separatist allies now control a large territory in the Donbas of eastern Ukraine and the south of the country. Officials there said they could organize referendums.
In his evening address, Zelensky said that Kyiv remains committed to not giving up even an inch of its territory to Russia.
“The position of our country remains as it has always been. “We will not give up anything that is ours,” he said.
“If the occupiers take the path of a pseudo-referendum, they will deny themselves any prospects for negotiations with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will obviously need at some point,” said Zelensky.
Russian and Ukrainian officials have held several rounds of talks since the invasion began on February 24. However, little progress has been made and there have been no meetings since the end of March, and the two sides accuse each other of this.
Russian forces hold most of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine and local officials have said they could hold a referendum on joining Russia within weeks or months.
Kherson, an important Black Sea port, has been fully under Russian control since early March.
Pro-Russian separatists held referendums on independence in Donbas and declared the so-called People’s Republic. The Kremlin recognized them before the beginning of the invasion.
The governor of Lugansk, a region that has been almost entirely under Russian control for several weeks, said over the weekend that Russia was preparing a new referendum in the newly conquered areas and was offering residents benefits if they responded.
In his latest video address, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky criticized the functioning of the global security architecture and, in that context, pointed to conflict situations and threats around the world in recent days, including the Balkans.
“These days, through our information space and social networks, there are a lot of reports about conflict situations and threats that exist in other geographical areas. First – the Balkans, then – Taiwan, now maybe the Caucasus… All these situations look different, although they are united by one factor, which is that the global security architecture did not work. If it had worked, there would not have been these conflicts,” Zelenski said.
He assessed that Ukrainians united the whole world not only around their fight for freedom, but also around understanding how fragile the freedom of all races is in Europe and other parts of the world.
Eastern Europe Reporter