The pro-Russian authorities in the occupied and currently fiercely contested southern Ukrainian region of Cherson say they want to interrupt their plans for a referendum on belonging to Russia.
Already on Monday, the head of the pro-Russian authorities, Kirill Stremusov, said on television that preparations for the vote had already begun. “But in view of the current developments, I believe that we will take a break for the moment,” said the politician.
The background is the security situation, the Russian state news agency Tass reported on Monday. After weeks of bombardment by Ukrainian troops, it is no longer possible to drive over the important Antonivskyj Bridge by car, Tass quoted the Russian-appointed deputy chief of the city of Cherson, Stremusov.
There has not yet been an official date for the referendum in Cherson. At the end of June, Stremoussow announced that preparations had begun. The vote was planned for the coming half year.
Since September 11th is a big regional election day in Russia, experts had expected the referendum on this date.
A referendum was also held in 2014 on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia and borders Cherson, in which the majority of the population of Russian origin spoke out in favor of joining Russia. This is not recognized internationally.
Russia had illegally annexed parts of Cherson. Now, as a result of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the Russian troops are losing control of areas they have already conquered.
Ukraine had recently reported progress in the region: According to the Southern Command, the Ukrainian soldiers recaptured several areas and destroyed, among other things, an ammunition depot, a pontoon bridge and a Russian army control center.