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Russia Mobilizes Troops And Prepares "Sham" Referendums In Occupied Ukraine

Four eastern Ukrainian regions under Russian occupation are set to hold rushed referendums to join the Russian Federation amid continued fighting.

Luhansk, Donetsk, Cherson, and Zaporizhia are all scheduled to hold referendums at the end of this week. The four areas combined represent some 15 percent of the total territory of Ukraine.

Western leaders and Kyiv condemned the referendums, with Ukrainian government sources calling them a sham.

"The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything," said Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba, as quoted by Reuters.

Russian analysts see the referendums as a step towards further escalation. Once these four become part of Russia, any attack on them would be considered an attack on Russia, and retaliation will be harsher, according to them.

"Encroachment onto Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self–defence," said Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president, currently serving as the deputy chairman of the Russian Defense Council.

Putin has announced a "partial mobilization" of Russia's military and claims to be ready to defend "our people" in the Donbas.

A further escalation on the military and political front could lead to an escalation on the economic front as well, weeks before heating season begins in Europe. Currently, Russia is still exporting gas to Europe via Ukraine but, as European leaders are acutely aware, this route could be shut down, even though Moscow has given no indication it has such plans.

The European Union is in a rush to source enough fossil fuels for the winter after Russia halted the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, an EU embargo on coal imports came into effect in August, and an embargo on crude oil is set to come into effect in December.

As part of preparations, Germany is hoping to sign LNG import deals with Qatar this week and has pledged to export electricity to France. Meanwhile, Italy is considering expanding energy imports from North Africa while Portugal is looking for alternative gas suppliers.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 21 2022 said:
    Whether the West calls the referenda in eastern Ukraine regions (Luhansk, Donetsk, Cherson, and Zaporizhia) sham or not, the majority of the people are Russians and they are expected to vote overwhelmingly for joining the motherland.

    Once part of the Russian Federation, President Putting will be justified in using whatever weapons he chooses including tactical nuclear weapons to defend them since he will be defending Russia itself.

    It is possible that this may have been President Putin’s strategy of escalating the situation in Ukraine to give the justification to use tactical nuclear weapons to smash once and for all the bulk of Ukraine forces and then declare the end of the Ukraine conflict.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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