Russia reiterated on Tuesday the threat to use nuclear weapons, when the last day of referenda is held to annex four territories under its total or partial control in Ukraine, votes that are considered a “farce” by kyiv and its allies.
The former Russian president and who is now the number two of the Russian Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, assured that Moscow will defend these new territories that it intends to incorporate after the scrutiny with the use of “all Russian weapons, including strategic weapons.”
“I am going to repeat it once again for deaf ears (…) Russia has the right to use the atomic weapon, if necessary,” he said.
When questioned about Medvedev’s statements, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov confirmed that they coincide with Russia’s “military doctrine”.
“The legal situation will radically change from the point of view of international law and that will also have consequences on security in these territories,” Peskov said.
This nuclear threat that worries the West coincides with the last day of the referendums in the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the east, and also in the Russian-occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporiya, in the south.
These votes were organized in response to the kyiv counter-offensive, which with the support of Western weapons has recaptured thousands of square kilometers from the Russians since the beginning of September, and are reminiscent of the strategy used for the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In total, these five regions account for a little more than 20% of the Ukrainian area.
This Tuesday, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, affirmed that these referendums intend to “save the populations” that reside in these territories.
“The rescue of the populations of all these territories in which this referendum is being held is … in the center of attention of our society and the whole country,” Putin told a government meeting on the last day of those ballots denounced as “simulacra” by Ukraine and the West.
The Kremlin stated that the annexation referendums will have radical “consequences” in these territories, especially in the field of security.
“The legal situation will radically change from the point of view of international law and that will also have consequences on security in these territories,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
exodus of russians
The G7 countries have vowed “never to acknowledge” the results, with the United States even promising a “swift and severe” response through additional economic sanctions.
The EU said it considers the annexation referendums “illegal” and “illegitimate” and warned that people who collaborated in their organization will be subject to sanctions.
China, a key ally of Moscow, did not openly criticize the referendums but called for respecting “the territorial integrity of all countries.”
None of these criticisms or threats seem to impress Moscow, which organized these referendums at top speed last week, in a context of Ukrainian military advances, opening hundreds of polling stations in the four territories and in Russia, to make those displaced by the conflict.
The authorities indicate that on Tuesday night or on the following days there will be “provisional results”. Next, the Russian Parliament will have to vote on a text that will formalize the integration of the four regions in Russia.
At the diplomatic level, the French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, traveled to kyiv on Tuesday to express her support for Ukraine and to meet with the president, Volodimir Zelensky.
In this phase of the conflict, Russia announced a mobilization of reservists that seeks to recruit some 300,000 troops for its army, which has had an exodus to neighboring countries as a response.
This Tuesday, this trend was confirmed by Georgia and Kazakhstan, but a shift to countries such as Finland or Mongolia is also observed.
“I am not cannon fodder, I am not a murderer,” Nikita, a 23-year-old Russian who crossed the border into Georgia, told AFP.
The Russian Defense Ministry has indicated that it will not request the extradition of the thousands of men who fled to neighboring countries to escape conscription.