Voting to wrap up in Russia-held areas of Ukraine

  • An elderly woman casts her ballot during a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Voting began last Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia.

    An elderly woman casts her ballot during a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Voting began last Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Associated Press

  • A group of Russians walk after crossing the border at Verkhny Lars between Georgia and Russia in Georgia, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Long lines of vehicles have formed at a border crossing between Russia's North Ossetia region and Georgia after Moscow announced a partial military mobilization. A day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization to bolster his troops in Ukraine, many Russians are leaving their homes.

    A group of Russians walk after crossing the border at Verkhny Lars between Georgia and Russia in Georgia, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Long lines of vehicles have formed at a border crossing between Russia's North Ossetia region and Georgia after Moscow announced a partial military mobilization. A day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization to bolster his troops in Ukraine, many Russians are leaving their homes. Associated Press

  • A man walks past a damaged buidling of his house after a Russian attack days ago in Raihorodok, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

    A man walks past a damaged buidling of his house after a Russian attack days ago in Raihorodok, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Associated Press

  • Members of election commission come to help a woman to vote during a referendum in Mariupol, Donetsk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia.

    Members of election commission come to help a woman to vote during a referendum in Mariupol, Donetsk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Associated Press

  • People stand at the entrance of a residential building that was damaged after a Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

    People stand at the entrance of a residential building that was damaged after a Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Associated Press

  • FILE People from Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the territory controlled by a pro-Russia separatist governments, who live in Crimea, vote during a referendum in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from regions under Russian control can cast their votes.

    FILE People from Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the territory controlled by a pro-Russia separatist governments, who live in Crimea, vote during a referendum in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees from regions under Russian control can cast their votes. Associated Press

  • FILE Russian recruits gather inside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin last Wednesday ordered a partial mobilisation of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine.

    FILE Russian recruits gather inside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin last Wednesday ordered a partial mobilisation of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. Associated Press

  • FILE A Luhansk People's Republic serviceman votes in a polling station in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic, controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia.

    FILE A Luhansk People's Republic serviceman votes in a polling station in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic, controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Voting began Friday in four Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. Associated Press

  • FILE Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine.

    FILE Russian recruits walk past a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. Associated Press

  • An elderly woman walks on a street in Raihorodok, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

    An elderly woman walks on a street in Raihorodok, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Associated Press

 
 
Posted9/27/2022 7:00 AM

KYIV, Ukraine -- The final day of voting was taken place in Russian-held regions of Ukraine Tuesday, a referendum that is expected to serve as a pretext for their annexation by Moscow but that is rejected as a sham by Kyiv and its Western allies.

The five-day voting, in which residents are asked whether they want their regions to become part of Russia, has been anything but free or fair. Tens of thousands of residents had already fled the regions amid the war, and images shared by those who remained showed armed Russian troops going door-to-door to pressure Ukrainians into voting.

 

The balloting on Tuesday was held at polling stations.

The Kremlin is expected to move immediately to absorb the regions once the voting is over, with President Vlaidmir Putin expected to declare their incorporation into Russia later this week.

Russian media also speculated that Putin may follow up on last week's order of partial mobilization by declaring martial law and shutting the nation's borders for all men of fighting age.


The mobilization has triggered a massive exodus of men from the country, fueled protests in many regions across Russia and sparked occasional acts of violence. On Monday, a gunman opened fire in an enlistment office in a Siberian city and gravely wounded the local chief military recruitment officer. The shooting came after scattered arson attacks on enlistment offices.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday once again decried the Russian mobilization as nothing more than 'an attempt to provide commanders on the ground with a constant stream of cannon fodder.'

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Zelenskyy vowed that the Ukrainian military will push efforts to take back 'the entire territory of Ukraine,' and has drawn up plans to counter 'new types of weapons' used by Russia.

Putin has warned that once the Russia-held regions are absorbed, Moscow will defend its territory with 'all available means," including nuclear weapons, raising fears of a sharp escalation of the seven-month conflict.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said Russia would pay a high, if unspecified, price if it made good on veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

'If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively,' he told NBC.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that Putin had told Turkey's president last week that Moscow was ready to resume negotiations with Ukraine but had 'new conditions' for a cease-fire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Even as the voting has continued in Russia-held areas, Russian forces have kept up their strikes across Ukraine. Overnight, Russian missile attacks targeted the southern areas of Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv, damaging residential buildings and other sites, officials said.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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