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Russian-held areas of Ukraine’s Mykolaiv to be incorporated in Russian-held Kherson

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The Russian-installed administration of southern Ukraine’s Kherson province said parts of the neighboring Mykolaiv region that are under the control of Russian forces would be incorporated into Kherson province, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Wednesday.

The decision would mean the incorporated region voting in a referendum this weekend on joining Russia.

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In the apparently coordinated move, pro-Russian figures announced referendums for September 23 to 27 in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing around 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory, or an area about the size of Hungary.

“The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday in response to reporters’ questions at the United Nations where leaders were arriving for a General Assembly meeting likely to be dominated by the war in Ukraine.

In a tweet, he added: “Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.”

If the referendum plan “wasn’t so tragic it would be funny,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters ahead of the UN assembly in New York.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 ordered what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine to root out dangerous nationalists and “denazify” the country. The war has killed thousands, destroyed cities and sent millions fleeing their homes in the former Soviet republic.

Read more: Putin signs decree on mobilization, says West wants to destroy Russia

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