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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Four Ukraine Regions Vote to Join Russia in Referendums

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The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) along with Kherson Region and part of Zaporozhye Region in southern Ukraine have voted to join Russia in referendums that were held between September 23 and 27.

In Lugansk, more than 98% of voters have supported the idea to join Russia, official figures show with all the ballots counted.

Donetsk has shown similar results with more than 99% of voters supporting the move. Both Zaporozhye and Kherson regions have processed all the ballots by late Tuesday, with 93% and 87% of voters respectively backing the split from Ukraine and reunification with Russia.

The process of integrating new regions into Russia may take some time as it requires the approval of the country’s parliament and the president. But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that he was “convinced it will be fast enough.” 

Under the Russian constitution and the federal law on the accession of new constituent members, the procedure includes several steps.

Once the regions willing to become part of the Russian Federation submit their proposals to Moscow, the president should inform parliament and the government on the matter, Senator Konstantin Kosachev explained in a Telegram post last week.

If a political agreement on the accession is reached, “draft international treaties on the admission of foreign states or parts of them” to Russia should be developed, Kosachev, the vice speaker of the upper house of parliament, said.

These agreements regulate issues such as the name and status of new territories, citizenship, succession, the functioning of public authorities, the operation of legislation, and so forth.

After these treaties are signed, the Russian Constitutional Court should verify if they comply with the country’s supreme law. If there are no violations, the next step will be the ratification of the documents by the lower house, the State Duma, and their approval by the upper house, the Federation Council.

Simultaneously, a draft federal constitutional law on the admission of new constituent units to Russia should be submitted to the Duma. If approved, it then goes to the upper house for consideration.

“This law enters into force no earlier than the entry into force of the international treaties themselves,” Kosachev noted.

Moscow warned earlier that if the Donbass republics and the two southern Ukrainian regions united with Russia, it would consider any attempts by Kiev to retake them as attacks on its own land. “Immediately the Russian Constitution will come into force in relation to these territories where everything is very clearly stated in this regard,” Peskov told journalists last week.

Shortly after the regions decided to hold referendums, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization that involved calling to arms some 300,000 reservists, according to the military.

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