KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia is poised to formally annex parts of Ukraine after occupied areas held a Kremlin-orchestrated “referendum” — denounced as illegal and rigged by Kyiv and the West — to live under Moscow’s rule.
Armed troops had gone door-to-door with election officials to collect ballots in five days of voting.
The results were widely ridiculed as implausible and characterized as a land grab by an increasingly cornered Russian leadership following embarrassing military losses in Ukraine.
Russia is calling up 300,000 reservists to fight in the war and warned it could resort to nuclear weapons.
The European Commission president urged the European Union’s 27 member countries to slap more sanctions on Russian officials and trade over the “sham referendums.”