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Tensions rise as Russian-held areas in Ukraine vote

A preordained referendum was held on Tuesday in Russian-held regions of Ukraine as a pretext for annexation by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns it may resort to nuclear weapons to defend its own territory in the wake of the vote, a development that is heightening tension between the Kremlin and the West.

This will set the stage for a dangerous new phase of the seven-month war as soon as the annexation takes place, possibly on Friday.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin, said Tuesday that the election will result in "a radically different situation, from the standpoint of international law, with all the corresponding consequences for protecting these areas and assuring their safety."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has since last week tried to raise the stakes by talking up Moscow's nuclear option in response to recent embarrassing battlefield defeats in Ukraine. Russia's exposed position can also be bolstered by regional ballots and calls for reservists.

27 September 2022


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