A separatist leader in eastern Ukraine’s breakaway Luhansk region indicated on Sunday that a referendum on joining Russia might be held shortly.
“I think that a referendum will be held on the territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic soon,” Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed region, told sources in Luhansk.
He further went on to say, “The individuals will exercise their fundamental constitutional privilege and express their view on whether or not they want to join the Russian Federation. For some reason, I’m sure that this is exactly how it will be.”
The opinion, however, was met coolly in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
Moreover, Leonid Kalashnikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States committee, said that the time is not suitable for such a move.
“And I think now it is not the right time for this. And it is hardly required to consider such questions now,” he said.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced “a military operation” to safeguard Donbas from “genocide,” citing Ukraine’s refusal to implement the Minsk Agreement on a peace settlement for eight years. However, it swiftly spread throughout the country.
Before starting a war on Ukraine, Moscow recognized the enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, as independent states, defying Western threats of sanctions.
As a result of the conflict, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has met international outrage with the European Union, United States, and the United Kingdom, imposing harsh financial sanctions on Russia.
According to UN estimates, at least 1,104 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,754 injured, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
According to the UN refugee agency, more than 3.8 million Ukrainians have also fled to neighboring countries, with millions more displaced inside the country.