Despite a weak effort on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s part to postpone any independence referendums in Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists went ahead with the “self-rule” referendum and the results were decidedly pro-Russian.
Last week, in a possible attempt to appease the West, Putin called for a postponement of the independence referendums in eastern Ukraine in order to create the conditions necessary for dialogue. But the pro-Russian separatists in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk decided to go ahead with the vote anyways.
So while Putin spent his weekend attending a giant Soviet-style parade in Moscow’s Red Square and travelling to newly annexed Crimea to check out some of Russia’s warships and bask in the loving patriotic chants of Crimeans, rebel leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk geared up for a hastily put together self-rule referendum.
The leader in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, said the decision to proceed with the vote had been unanimous.
“We just voice what the people want and demonstrate through their actions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities (along with the US and the EU) say they will disregard the results, calling the referendums an illegal farce with no legal consequences for Kiev.
And the results of the illegal referendums are in… and the pro-Russian separatists have declared a resounding victory in their favour!
According to the pro-Russian leaders,who counted up the votes without the help of international election monitors, roughly 89% of Donetsk voters and 96% of Luhansk voters opted for sovereignty in the Sunday elections.
Cue more violence and further sanctions on Russia, who Ukraine is accusing of orchestrating the unrest in a possible attempt to grab another chunk of the crumbling country.
But before Donetsk and Luhansk can go full Crimea, they must first ask Putin whether or not Russia will “absorb” them. So far the Kremlin has shown no immediate intention of annexing eastern Ukraine, although they still haven’t pulled back their 40,000 troops from the border. Either way, Donetsk and Luhansk had better ask Russia extra nicely to take them in – because neither region could survive economically on their own.