Let’s just make one thing clear: What is happening in occupied Ukraine, what happened in 2014 in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, cannot be called referenda. They are fake. They are not elections. They are nothing but a performance of voting, but no actual voting is taking place.
For an election or referendum or vote to be true, the following preconditions have to be met:
- The electorate needs to be representative for the population. When elections happen in democratic countries, not everybody votes, but enough people from each district typically vote – or at least are able to vote – to provide a representative portion of the population with a chance to voice their opinion about a certain political choice. This typically excludes non-citizens (with some exceptions) and minors. The notion of who is a citizen has been more restrictive in the past. What happened and is happening in Russian-occupied Ukraine is that many who would or should have voted have been either forced to flee, been killed, prevented from voting, or coerced to vote against their will. This is plenty of evidence for that. Additionally, none of the oblasts currently “voting” are completely occupied by Russia, so by definition part of their population does not get a “chance” to vote already.
- The election has to be voluntary. Russian troops are going house to house forcing people to vote at gunpoint, and there are reports that those not wanting to vote may lose their jobs.
- The vote has to be secret. Russia has used transparent voting booths where everyone can see who you voted for.
- The initiative for the referendum has to come from the people. Not true in Russian-occupied Ukraine: it’s all orchestrated by Russia or their sympathizers who are coercing the population to vote.
- The elections or referenda need to be aligned with the constitution of the respective country. The Ukrainian constitution does not allow territorial changes to happen without an all-Ukrainian referendum (Article 73).
Why is this happening, and what does this mean? Russia wants to shift the narrative to claim it is being attacked by the West – which is not true. This has been a war of choice by Russia since 2014. The West is responding to Russian aggression, not the other way around. NATO never threatened Russia. Russian President Putin is committed to the clear destruction of Ukraine and Ukrainian identity. He has admitted to this, and calls all those supporting Ukrainian identity “Nazis” – thus “Denazification” means “De-Ukrainization.” His motivation is predatory and genocidal. He has frequently reiterated that he does not want to negotiate in any way that preserves Ukraine as an free and independent country.
What the fake “referenda” show is yet another proof that Putin is not interested in negotiations: He is stealing Ukrainian land, torturing and killing Ukrainians, and intent on claiming these territories for Russia.
Why only those few territories? Because he has been driven out of Kharkiv, out of the area of Kiev, and is about to lose even more territory.
Will he use nuclear power? He says he is not bluffing – which may show that he is indeed bluffing. Does it matter? No. It changes nothing. Ukraine has been experiencing genocide at the hands of Stalin, Hitler, and now Putin. It will not give up. Turkey has already said they are not recognizing any Russian territorial claims – including Crimea. India is against the war. China is selfish, but reluctantly calling for negotiations.
Putin thought he could unite the non-“Western” world behind him in his war against the West. What he has not understood is that even countries who claim not to be Western are, in fact, either part of the West already or on their way – including Russia. Most of the Russian population just wants to lead a normal, modern (aka Western) life. Many of them saw gaining Crimea as a perk, but now this has gone too far. Putin knows he is losing. I imagine his office looking similar to the Führerbunker when Hitler was losing the war – with the only but key difference that the war against Russia is only happening inside Putin’s head.
This needs to end. Ukraine must win, Putin needs to be defeated. There is no alternative anymore.
Here is the solution: Russia declares that all the “referenda” show that people wanted to stay with Ukraine. Russian cronies and soldiers leave, Russia pays reparations, Putin turns himself in to Den Haag – admitting to his mistakes (he could try the insanity defense), Russians agree that only true democracy can prevent yet another paranoid idiot (whom his own KGB bosses deemed unfit to lead!) to ruin the country, sanctions end, Russia and Ukraine and all former Soviet-occupied countries can thrive together within the global community. Easy!
One can always dream…
Ceterum censeo Ucrainam esse defendam. Слава Україні!