Russia is preparing a fake referendum on territory it has occupied in southern Ukraine so it can take over it, according to reports.
On March 5, the port city of Kherson became the first major Ukrainian city to be taken over by invading Russian strength.
The deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, Serhiy Khlan, who controls the city, said Russia is now trying to force the creation of a breakaway region called the Kherson People’s Republic, which includes the city and its surrounding region.
In a Facebook post, he claimed that the Russian military had called all Council officials and asked them if they were “ready to cooperate” with the attackers.
Sir. Khlan called on Council officials not to cooperate with the Russians, saying: “In the Kherson region, they are preparing a referendum on the establishment of the KhNR.
“I appeal to all the deputies of the Kherson Regional Council. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you understand the consequences of your decision. The creation of the KhNR will make our region a hopeless hole with no life and no future.
“The whole state will look at you and there can be no excuses for cooperating with the residents!
“Do not give them a single vote! Do not give them any opportunity to legitimize the KhNR … Enter the history of Ukraine, not as traitors that no one wants, but truly as citizens whose names will be remembered by future generations.”
Russia’s alleged proposal draws parallels to holding what is widely considered a pseudo-referendum on the country’s annexation of the former Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014.
The referendum was illegal under the Ukrainian constitution and its results are still not recognized by the international community.
It is believed that the Kremlin seized Kherson in an attempt to cut it off from Ukraine access to the Black Sea and international shipping.
If this happens, it could have a serious impact on the country’s economy, by allowing Russia to build a land corridor stretching from the border from Crimea to Romania.
Kherson has a population of 280,000 people and borders Crimea.
It also borders Donetsk, home of Russia’s self-proclaimed independent People’s Republic of Donetsk, a breakaway region in Ukraine created in 2014 following yet another false referendum orchestrated by Russian-backed rebels.
Non-elected separatists held a vote in the RSA building in Donetsk and supported the declaration of a People’s Republic of Donetskwhich Russia last month recognized as an independent country.
Donetsk served as a launching pad for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, giving Vladimir Putin a supposed pretext to do so after he was “invited” to mobilize troops by separatist leaders.