Ukraine Russia War: Separatists from Donbas call for referendum as Ukraine pushes further

The swift Ukrainian gains on the battlefield have been the reason for nervousness within the Moscow-backed administration in the Donbas region. Denis Pushilin, the head of Donetsk, has called for a referendum in his breakaway state and has urged his fellow leader of the Luhansk state to follow suit.

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After last week’s victory in the Kharkiv sector, with Ukrainian forces recapturing lands near Izyum, the Ukrainians have pushed further as the Russians vacated their positions near the Donbas regions paving a way for a potential attack by the Ukrainian forces in the Russian-occupied Donbas.

“The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski said in an address late on Monday, stating that he was now focused on “speed” in liberated areas.

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“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed in restoring normal life,” Zelensky said.

“We are doing everything to ensure Ukraine’s needs are met at all levels – defence, financial, economic, diplomatic,” Zelensky added.

According to Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, Ukraine’s armed forces have fully retaken control of the village of Bilohorivka and are getting ready to retake the entire province from Russian occupation. The city of Lysychansk, which was conquered by the Russians in July after several weeks of gruelling combat, lies barely 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the west of the settlement.

“There will be fighting for every centimetre,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing their defence. So we will not simply march in.”

The industrialised eastern region of Donbas, which includes Luhansk and the neighbouring province of Donetsk, is what Moscow refers to as the “special military operation” in Ukraine, and it is this territory that Moscow says it intends to conquer as its main objective.

The swift Ukrainian gains on the battlefield have been the reason for nervousness within the Moscow-backed administration in the Donbas region. Denis Pushilin, the head of Donetsk, has called for a referendum in his breakaway state and has urged his fellow leader of the Luhansk state to follow suit.