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Voting begins in Russia-held regions of Ukraine

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Voting has begun in Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia. The Kremlin orchestrated the votes and they're certain to go Russia's way. But Ukraine and the West have denounced them as shams without any legal force. The votes are being held in the Luhansk, Kherson, partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. Russian State TV released footage showing the preparations at polling stations and people casting their ballots. The expected outcome favoring joining Russia would give it the pretext to claim Ukrainian forces are attacking Russia itself. That would dramatically escalate the seven-month conflict. The Moscow-appointed head of the Donetsk region Denis Pushilin, released a video of himself casting a ballot on his official Telegram Channel. The referendums follow President Vladimir Putin's order of a partial mobilization that could add some 300,000 Russian troops to the fight. The voting started Friday and runs through Tuesday.

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