Leonid Passetchnik, the leader of this separatist territory, said he was optimistic about the outcome of this referendum which could be held “in the near future”.

The separatist territory of Lugansk, whose independence Moscow has recognized, could soon hold a referendum to join Russia, the territory’s leader, Leonid Passechnik, said on Sunday.

I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the republic (self-proclaimed Lugansk, editor’s note), during which the people will exercise their absolute constitutional right and express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation“, he said, quoted by the Russian agencies. “I don’t know why, I’m sure it will“, he added, without giving details of a possible date.

“No legal validity”, reacts the Ukrainian government

“All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void, and will have no legal validity”retorted the spokesman of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the agency Reuters.

“On the contrary, Russia would expose itself to even stronger sanctions from the international community, accentuating its global isolation”he further warned.

Unrecognized independence

The pro-Russian separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow has recognized, are located in the Russian-speaking Donbass mining basin (eastern Ukraine) and have escaped kyiv’s control since 2014. The war that has pitted the separatists against the kyiv authorities since then has claimed more than 14,000 lives.

Their independence, proclaimed after referendums, is not recognized by the international community. On February 21, in a highly choreographed sequence, President Vladimir Putin recognized their independence and responded to their request to set up a “defense cooperation“.

This was a prelude to the entry, on February 24, of Russian troops into Ukraine, on the grounds, according to the Kremlin, of defending these separatist territories.

SEE ALSO – Ukraine: joy in Donetsk after the Russian decision to recognize the independence of two separatist regions

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