Elections officials in Moscow said Tuesday that eligible voters in Russia had overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favour of the Kremlin annexing four Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine.
At least 96 percent of voters in Russia cast their ballots in favour of annexation after at least 15 percent of ballots were counted, news agencies carrying data from election officials said.
Ukraine and its allies have denounced the referendums as a “sham” and an attempt at a land grab.
Moscow has explained that voting was also being held in Russia because thousands of residents of the areas that are controlled by Russian forces fled after President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“It’s already clear that the vast majority of people supported the issue of secession from Ukraine and joining Russia,” Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-appointed head of the Russian-held Kherson region said on social media.
Kyiv said the votes organised by Kremlin-backed officials would not have any impact on its military goals, seven months into Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
“The main thing is that these actions, this decision by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, will not have any influence on the politics, diplomacy and actions of Ukraine on the battlefield,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during a press conference with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna.
On the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, polling stations were open to people displaced by fighting including from Lugansk and Donetsk, which have been controlled by Moscow-backed separatists for years.
“With my voice I want to try to make my small contribution to stop the war,” Galina Korsakova, 63, told AFP. “I really want to go home.”