They trusted Russia to save them. Now they are used as cannon fodder in Putin’s war.

They trusted Russia to save them.  Now they are used as cannon fodder in Putin's war.

– We are worse off than North Korea, says a resident of Donetsk. A “referendum” will now take place in the occupied territories.

Water every three days. They never know when they will have electricity or mobile coverage. Or when the bombs fall.

This is how Serge describes life in occupied Donetsk. This is not his real name. Aftenposten chose to conceal his identity for his own safety.

Born and raised in Donetsk, Ukraine. This is one of the republics that this weekend will hold a so-called referendum to decide whether it should become part of Russia.

Sergey snores at the thought.

– Which country starts the referendum within three days? This is just propaganda, he says over the phone to Aftenposten.

But a “referendum” has yet to be held while the bombs are falling and the occupying power is in full swing.

Western leaders describe the vote as “completely illegal”. But it is no coincidence that Putin wants these parts to become part of Russia for now. Then he can claim that Russian lands are under attack – and he can mobilize larger parts of the population and use more of his military tools. There are, among other things, nuclear weapons.

Republics are key to how the war in Ukraine develops. But what do they mean themselves?

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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