Zelensky defies Putin’s nuclear threat and vows to reclaim more land after “99% voted to join Russia” in mock referendums

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has defied Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat and vowed to reclaim more land after 99 percent of the farce reportedly voted to join Russia in mock referendums.

The wartime president said Russia’s “criminal” elections would not change Ukraine’s battle plans.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia's sham referendums a'farce'

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia’s sham referendums a ‘farce’Credit: Alamy
In Luhansk, 99 percent are said to have voted in favor of joining Russia

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In Luhansk, 99 percent are said to have voted in favor of joining RussiaCredit: AP
President Vladimir Putin has vowed to use

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President Vladimir Putin has vowed to use “any means” necessary to defend Russian territoryCredit: AP
Russian military doctrine allows use of nuclear weapons on'Russian territory'

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Russian military doctrine allows use of nuclear weapons on ‘Russian territory’Photo credit: AFP

In a speech shortly after the results of the sham elections were published, Zelenskyy said: “We will act to protect our people: both in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhia region, in the Donbass, in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, and on the Crimea.

“This farce in the occupied territories cannot even be called an imitation of referendums.

“And as for the front, I will say it briefly and without details for now, although they will be good: we are moving forward and liberating our country.”

Mad Vlad’s sham referees claim that up to 99 percent of people in four Ukrainian regions want to join Russia – raising fears the tyrant could use the result as a pretext to launch nuclear weapons.

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In response, the US offered Ukraine another $1.1 billion arms package.

Residents have been forced to vote at gunpoint in the occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson over the past five days.

Western officials have slammed the vote, which saw Putin’s goons threateningly carry ballot boxes from house to house.

Reports also surfaced of Russian soldiers marching residents to polling stations and watching them cast their votes.

The results – which observers say could also be rigged – will be finalized in the coming days but are expected to show overwhelming support for joining Russia.

Putin could officially annex the territories as early as Friday, although his forces do not control all four regions after a heroic uprising.

It would allow him to claim that Russian territory was under attack and launch nuclear weapons in response.

And the bloodthirsty dictator could also send conscripts to the front.

Russian law makes it illegal to send conscripts outside of Russia except in times of war – but Putin still insists it is a “special military operation”.

State-run RIA news said initial counts showed an absurd level of support for joining Russia.

After counting all the votes in Donetsk in the far east, Putin’s puppet officials declared 99.23 percent approval, in neighboring Luhansk it was 98.42 percent.

In the southern Kherson region – where there has been a major uprising in recent weeks – officials claimed 87.05 percent voted to join Russia.

And in Zaporizhia, 93 percent of the residents were said to be in favor.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the results a “farce”.

“This farce in the occupied territories cannot even be described as an imitation of referendums,” he said.

“As for the front, I will say it briefly and without details for now, although they will be good: we are moving forward and liberating our country.”

It comes as Mad Vlad said last week that he is ready to “use any means at our disposal” to preserve Russia’s “territorial integrity.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the EU to impose more sanctions on Moscow as punishment for staging the polls, which Kyiv said will make no difference in the battlefield response.

Kyiv also said it would not hold peace talks if an annexation of Ukrainian territory happened and said any citizen who helps Russia vote would face a charge of treason.

The referendums were hastily called this month after Ukraine seized tracts of land in a blitzkrieg counter-offensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region.

The West and Ukraine claim the votes are a sham because hundreds of thousands of locals have already fled and because Russia is rushing to claim sovereignty in regions it barely controls militarily.

Russia used a similar tactic when it seized Crimea in 2014, claiming that 97 percent of the people voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Valentina Matviyenko, a senior Russian politician, said that if the voting results are in Moscow’s favour, the Russian parliament could propose the incorporation of the four regions on October 4 – three days before Mad Vlad’s 70th birthday.

That would allow Putin to send to the front lines his 300,000 new conscripts who are legally not allowed to fight outside of Russia.

It would also allow him to invoke Russia’s military doctrine, which allows the use of nuclear weapons if its territory is “attacked.”

It comes as Dmitry Medvedev – a former president of Russia – issued the chilling warning after Putin’s televised rant threatening the West with nuclear weapons.

He said if the territories joined Russia they would be entitled to protection from Russian nuclear weapons, Medvedev said.

“All Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection,” he said, possibly referring to hypersonic missiles.

Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said “there is no turning back” when it comes to the referendums.

“The Donbas republics and other territories will be included in Russia,” he said.

Known as Putin’s “yes man,” 56-year-old Medvedev used to be seen as more dovish than the Russian leader, though he has adopted an increasingly hardline stance in recent years.

Ever since the war began turning against Putin, there have been fears that he could order the use of tactical nuclear weapons designed for use on the battlefield rather than destroying cities.

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Although they have a lower yield than strategic nuclear weapons, they can still inflict devastating casualties on an enemy.

Nuclear weapons on the battlefield are commonly carried in bombs, artillery shells, and smaller missiles.

Reports have surfaced of soldiers with guns marching residents to polling stations

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Reports have surfaced of soldiers with guns marching residents to polling stationsCredit: EPA

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https://www.the-sun.com/news/6314279/putins-sham-referendum-results-nuke-fears/ Zelensky defies Putin’s nuclear threat and vows to reclaim more land after “99% voted to join Russia” in mock referendums

DevanCole

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