1. The international community will not officially recognize the results  obviously rigged and illegitimate ballots.
  2.  Russia’s referendums have the potential to significantly escalate the war.
  3. Stage-managed votes will likely lead to even more misery for the millions of Ukrainians currently living under Russian occupation.
  4. Annexation would allow the Kremlin to militarize occupied areas of Ukraine and use the captive population as cannon fodder in the war against their fellow Ukrainians. Large numbers of the civilian population would be forcibly deported to the most far-flung regions of Russia, while Russians would be encouraged to replace them and settle in Ukraine.
  5. The Kremlin will also exploit rigged referendums to extend its nuclear umbrella to newly annexed regions of Ukraine under the guise of defending Russia’s territorial integrity. Moscow would then use this cynical argument to pressure the West into discouraging President Zelenskyy from undertaking further military action to liberate southern and eastern Ukraine.
  6. In the long term, the annexation of large swathes of Ukraine would create major problems for Russia’s future as a modern state. Any new Russian leader would face the dilemma of either acknowledging the annexations as illegal or continuing Putin’s imperial policies of nineteenth century-style colonization.
  7. Attempts to withdraw from annexed regions of Ukraine would risk large-scale domestic unrest within Russia itself and would open up a Pandora’s box of unwelcome political and economic consequences while also necessitating changes to the Russian Constitution. Alternatively, a continuation of today’s imperialism in Ukraine would condemn Russia to further isolation as an irredeemably authoritarian and revisionist power. The annexation issue would remain an obstacle to any thaw between Moscow and the democratic world.


The “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, which are recognized by Russia, intend to vote on joining the Russian Federation this week in a controversial procedure. At the same time, the embattled area of ​​Cherson in the south wants to have a vote on joining Russia. The mock referendums, which are not recognized by either Ukraine or the international community, are to be held from September 23-27.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared that after its implementation and the inclusion of the new territories in Russia, the geopolitical transformation in the world will take on an irreversible character. After the accession of the territories, Russia could use “all means of self-protection” (including nuclear weapons).

The Kremlin could rely on being able to use the referenda to mobilize the population domestically  possibly even by declaring a state of defense. A referendum on accession to Russia is also being considered in the Russian-controlled part of the Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia.

Add new comment