Lavrov called the referendums a response to Zelensky’s call to “go to Russia”

Lavrov said that the West “fell into hysterics” because of the referendums in the DPR and LPR, and the residents of Donbass are following Zelensky's advice to “look for a place in Russia.” In 2021, the president made such an appeal to those who consider themselves Russian

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the reaction of Western countries to the referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR), as well as the Russian-controlled territories of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine.

“Now the West has thrown a tantrum <…> But the people living there [in the Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions] are essentially only reacting to what the head of the Kyiv regime [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky recommended to them in one of his interviews last August, — said Lavrov, speaking at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (quoted by TASS).

According to Lavrov, then the President of Ukraine “advised everyone who feels Russian, for the sake of their children and grandchildren, to go to Russia". Now, the Foreign Minister said, the inhabitants of these regions are doing just that, “taking with them their lands, on which their ancestors lived for centuries.”

In August 2021, Zelensky said that residents of Donbass who consider themselves Russians should move to Russia, since the region will never be Russian territory, but will sooner or later return to Ukraine. “I think for the future of your children and grandchildren, if you love Russia and have been on the territory of Ukraine all your life and felt that this is Russia, then you must understand that for the sake of your children and grandchildren you already need to go and look for a place for yourself in Russia. That's right,” — he said then.

On February 22, Russia recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. Two days later, the country launched a military operation in Ukraine, during which the Russian military took control of parts of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions; pro-Russian civil-military administrations (VGA) were formed in these territories. On September 20, the DPR, LPR, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya Higher State Administrations simultaneously announced that they would hold referendums on joining Russia from September 23 to 27.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 21 that the country would support “the decision about its future, which will be made by the majority of residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.”

The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly stressed that holding referendums would make negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv impossible. The country calls these territories occupied and promises to return them under its control.

The US White House says that the referendums in Donbass “are an insult to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasizes that their holding does not comply with international law and agreements. French President Emmanuel Macron is confident that the vote will have no legal consequences. The G7 countries (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan and the USA) have stated that they will never recognize the results of the referenda and are ready to take additional economic sanctions against Russia, as well as individuals and legal entities involved in this process. The European Union has also warned about new sanctions.

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Sergey Lavrov

diplomat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia

March 21, 1950

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