Moscow proxies in southern Ukraine target September vote on Russian membership

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Rescuers stand outside a shopping mall damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

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July 14 (Reuters) – Russian-installed officials in an area of ​​Ukraine partly under Moscow‘s control plan to hold a referendum on joining Russia in September, the RIA news agency reported. Novosti, citing a local official.

A member of the civil-military administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine, said on Thursday that a membership vote would take place in early autumn. “The estimated date is in the first half of September,” RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Rogov as saying.

“We will finally announce when it will be once we understand the level of preparedness and involvement of the people,” Rogov said.

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Russian-backed forces have seized most of the Zaporizhzhia region along Ukraine’s southern coast, but the Ukrainian military still controls the northern part of the region, including the city of Zaporizhzhia, the largest urban center and home to more than half of the pre-war population.

Rogov had previously said the region would pursue a referendum even if Russia could not gain control of the entire region.

Zaporizhzhia is not in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Russia says it is fighting to support the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk – separatist entities recognized only by Russia, Syria and North Korea.

Russia’s proxies in the occupied Kherson region are also planning a referendum on joining Russia later this year.

The Kremlin said votes are up to regional officials and did not comment on the prospect of the entities joining Russia.

Russia’s ambassador to Britain said last week that Russian forces were unlikely to withdraw from the strip of land on Ukraine’s southern coast that his forces have seized since the February 24 invasion. Read more

(This story corrects “a member” (not the head) of the civil-military administration in paragraph 2)

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