The majority of citizens of both the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) support the idea of uniting with Russia, according to local election commissions.
In the DPR, more than 99% of voters supported the idea of joining Russia, according to early official figures. The referendum in the LPR yielded a similar result, with more than 98% of voters supporting the potential reunification. In both republics, all the ballots have already been counted, according to local authorities.
The polls were conducted in the republics, as well as in the Moscow-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, between September 23 and 27.
Both republics – which broke away from Kiev in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup and the conflict in Ukraine’s east that followed – have shown a turnout of over 80% for the referendums, official figures show.
Ukraine and its Western supporters have already rejected the referendums on joining Russia as a “sham” ballot, vowing to not recognize the results regardless of their outcome. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky warned that Russia’s completion of the referendums would “make it impossible, in any case, to continue any diplomatic negotiations” with Moscow.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.