Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Sergey Kiriyenko, is responsible for setting up sham referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a press briefing on Aug. 30.
“Kiriyenko is responsible for overseeing the Russia-held territories in advance of their attempted incorporation into Russia, which would be illegal if completed,” Patel noted.
Washington expects Moscow to hold a series of sham votes in occupied Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts in coming weeks.
“We expect Russia to manipulate the results of these referendums in order to falsely claim that the Ukrainian people want to join Russia,” the official added.
“This is a part of Russia’s playbook to attack the sovereignty, identity, and history of Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier warned that any such fake voting would rule out any potential peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.