Booklets were handed out on the eve of the referendum in Luhansk Russian-backed officials in four occupied regions of Ukraine are holding self-styled referendums on joining Russia. Denounced as illegitimate and a sham by Ukraine and the West, these so-called votes are taking place over five days while all four areas – two in the east and two in the south – are on the front line. An annexation could lead to a claim by Russia that its territory is coming under attack from Western weapons supplied to Ukraine. This could escalate the war further. What is going on and why now? Seven months after Russia’s invasion began, Vladimir Putin is on the back foot. Ukraine’s counter-offensive has recaptured swathes of territory seized since the 24 February invasion. A vote on annexation is one of three steps taken by the Kremlin in an attempt to reset the war. By […]