'There's no talk of November anymore' Moscow's plans to hold 'referendums' on annexing Ukrainian territories have been 'put on hold indefinitely'
According to two sources close to the Kremlin, the Russian authorities have postponed their plans to conduct “referendums” on Russian annexation of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics and of Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions "indefinitely."
Meduza’s sources reported that Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in and around the Kharkiv region was the sole reason behind the Kremlin’s decision to postpone the referendums. The sources stressed that political strategists with ties to the Kremlin in Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions have already been called back to Russia. “Everyone got the fuck out of there. They received orders to go home,” said the sources. Russian political strategists tasked with preparing for referendums remain in the Kherson region.
As Meduza has previously reported, Russian Federation Council Deputy Speaker and United Russia General Council Secretary Andrey Turchak said in early September that holding the referendums on November 4 — Russia’s Unity Day — would be “correct and symbolic.” Collaborationist officials in Ukraine’s occupied regions expressed support for the idea.
November 4 was the first prospective referendum date named publicly by such a high-ranking Russian official. According to Meduza’s sources, however, Kremlin officials believed at the start of the war that they would be able to annex new Ukrainian territories as soon as April. The plan was eventually postponed to May, then to September 11, due to Russian military failures.
The September date, however, also proved impossible. Meduza’s sources claim that the Putin administration, under pressure from the president himself, chose November 4 as a final “definitive” date, as the president himself is reportedly “tired of waiting” to annex new territories.
A source told Meduza that the Russian-backed “military civil administrations” in Ukraine’s occupied territories were slated to announce the official start of preparations for the November referendums next week. Now, however, all of those plans have been “put on hold.” According to the source, “there's no talk of November anymore.”
Sources close to the Kremlin emphasized that the Russian authorities don’t know when they might be able to start discussing possible annexation dates again, and that it will depend on how Ukraine’s counteroffensive progresses. Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov did not respond to Meduza’s questions about the referendums.
Update: Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russian-backed occupation authorities in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, said on September 12 that the referendum on annexing the territory will be held “when the region is definitively prepared in terms of its residents' security.”
Cover photo: Mikhael Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN / POOL / Scanpix / LETA