In direct opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s calling for a postponement of a succession vote by separatists in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists voted unanimously to go ahead with a referendum of independence from Ukraine on May 11th.
Many believe that Putin’s call for postponement was a staged event.
According to Denis Pushilin, leader of the movement, “We have just voted in the People’s Council. … The date of the referendum was endorsed 100 percent. The referendum will take place on May 11.” The vote will take place in the Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. According to reports, three million paper ballots have been printed up for the Sunday vote.
The capital of Ukraine, Kiev, is calling the vote illegitimate and even as the east prepares for the vote, Kiev will continue its campaign to bring that region back under control.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the United States as well as NATO is trying to mislead the world about the conflict between the interim administration in Kiev and Moscow and announced that the Ukrainian government had amassed 15,000 troops on the border with Russia.
Earlier this week, Putin announced that he had ordered the 40,000 troops that Russia had on the border be moved back to their usual operating areas. The U.S. says that satellite imagery shows that those troops have shown no signs of moving.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also announced that they had retaliated for the sanctions placed on them by Japan, Canada, the United States and the European Union by barring certain individuals in Canada and the U.S. from entering Russia. The ministry said that they will not be publishing the list and the individuals will know when they apply for a visa.
The U.S. State Department has issued a warning to its citizens about visiting the eastern portion of Ukraine because of the frequent clashes between government troops and the separatist movement members.