Another part of Ukraine annexed by Russia? Signed: "I advise you to get used to it"
Another part of Ukraine, along the Dnieper River, has decided to hold a referendum, which will declare its accession to Russia.Source: B92
The head of the Zaporizhzhya region signed a decree on a referendum in which residents are invited to declare whether they want to join Russia.
The head of the military-civilian administration of the Zaporozhye region, Yevhen Vitaliiovych Balytskyi, said today that he signed the decree on holding a referendum on the region's accession to Russia.
"I am signing the order to the Central Election Commission to start preparations for the referendum on the unification of the Zaporozhye region with Russia," said Balytskyi at the "Together with Russia" forum, reports TASS.
The decision of the military-civilian administration to hold the referendum caused applause from those present at the forum, and at the end of the event, the national anthem of Russia was played, according to the Russian agency.
Balytskyi is said to have signed the order during a forum organized by 700 delegates of a local movement calling itself "We are together with Russia" in the town of Melitopol. Those present unanimously agreed with the need to hold a referendum on the status of Zaporozhye.
Earlier, a member of the main council of administration of the Zaporozhye region, Vladimir Rogov, commented on Volodymyr Zelensky's statement that holding a referendum in the southern regions - Zaporozhye and Kherson regions - will end any possibility of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Rogov said that the referendum will probably be held in September, and the exact date will be determined.
"The Zaporizhia region is leaving Ukraine forever. The Zaporizhia region has moved towards unification with Russia and there is no way back. That's why I advise the Zelensky regime to get used to it and start identifying the Zaporizhia region with Russia," said Rogov.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that negotiations with Russia will not be possible if he holds referendums in the occupied areas of his country. As N1 reports, citing Hina, Russian forces and their separatist allies now control large parts of the territories in the Donbass in the east of Ukraine and in the south of the country.
Officials there said they could organize referendums. Zelensky said that Kyiv remains of the position that it will not cede even an inch of its territory to Russia. "The position of our country remains as it has always been." We will not give up anything that is ours," said the President of Ukraine.
According to his warning, "if the occupiers go the pseudo-referendum route, they will deny themselves any prospects for negotiations with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will obviously need at some point."
Rich in black soil
Located west of the Donetsk People's Republic and northeast of Crimea, Zaporozhye is a large agricultural and industrial center, with a coastline on the Sea of Azov. The southern part of the territory was liberated by Russian and Donbas forces, while the northern areas, including the administrative capital of Zaporozhye, remain under Kyiv's control.
The head of the interim administration of the Zaporozhye region, Yevgeny Balytskyi, signed the decree on the referendum on the status of the region, Sputnik's correspondent reported.
Pro-Russian administrations were established in Zaporozhye and neighboring Kherson Oblast during Moscow's ongoing military operation in Ukraine, and interim authorities suggest that most residents want their regions to become part of Russia.
Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv and Washington had discussed a scenario for disrupting a referendum on the status of regions outside Ukraine's control in a telephone conversation.
"We had a long phone conversation... We also discussed Russia's plans to de facto annex the newly occupied territories of Ukraine and how we can prevent this scenario," said Kuleba.
The call was held on August 1, and included Kuleba, Andrii Yermak, Chief of Staff of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and on the American side, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley.
Also last week, Igor Zhovkva, the deputy head of the Ukrainian office of the president, told reporters that Kyiv would "return" Russian-controlled territories before holding any referendums.
Rogov characterized Zhovka's remarks as "unscientific fiction" that does not correspond to reality and called on Kyiv to "give up illusions about seizing liberated territories." He added that "everyone in Kyiv knows that if they go on an offensive, it will bog down, and even more territory of post-Ukraine temporarily controlled by Volodymyr Zelensky will be liberated..."
Zaporozhye is a large industrial region and a traditional agricultural powerhouse with rich chernozem, literally 'black earth', soil rich in minerals for agriculture. The region is home to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant - the largest nuclear power generating facility in Europe, the massive Dnieper Hydroelectric Plant and the Zaporozhye Thermal Power Plant, along with a host of industrial enterprises mostly built in the Soviet Union that produce everything from steel and aluminum to advanced components for aircraft, cars and various heavy industrial products. In 2021, the region had a population of over 1.6 million people.
Like most regions of Ukraine, Zaporozhye fell on hard economic times after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with part of its industrial base privatized and dismantled, or suppressed. Commercial ties with Russia were cut off after 2014. Zaporozhye became part of the Russian Empire after the Russo-Turkish wars in the 18th century.
After the October Revolution of 1917 and a brief period of independence sponsored by German and Austro-Hungarian troops, the region and much of the rest of Ukraine were incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Zaporozhye became part of independent Ukraine in 1991 after Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Belarusian Prime Minister Stanislav Shushkevich secretly met in western Belarus and agreed to liquidate the USSR.