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Ukrainian Official Denounces Referendums in Russian Occupied Territory, Will ‘Liberate Our Territory by Military Means’

Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. AP
Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. AP

Ukraine is determined to reclaim territory that Russia is likely to annex following stage-managed voting in occupied areas and takes seriously Moscow’s threats to use nuclear weapons in the war with its neighbor, an adviser to Ukraine’s president said Wednesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak insisted that nothing would change on the battlefield if Russia moves to incorporate four regions of southern and eastern Ukraine in the coming days, as is widely expected.

“We will liberate our territory by military means,” Podolyak said. “And for us, our actions depend not so much on what the Russian Federation thinks or wants, but on the military capabilities that Ukraine has.”

Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that ended Tuesday as as illegal and a sham, noting that many residents remain displaced by the seven-month war. They also said Moscow-installed local officials had announced the passage of the measures by suspiciously high margins after armed troops had at times gone door-to-door collecting ballots.

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