Breakaway Georgian region South Ossetia to hold referendum on joining Russia


South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov with Putin in 2019  - REUTERS

South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov with Putin in 2019 – REUTERS

The leader of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia has announced that a referendum will be held in July on joining Russia.

Russia has exercised effective control over the region since fighting a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Russia and a handful of other countries recognise South Ossetia as an independent state, but most of the world still considers it to be part of Georgia.

“We did it!” South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov wrote on Telegram on Friday in announcing that he had signed a decree setting the referendum for July 17.

“In legalese, we fulfilled yet another important legal requirement,” he said. “And in normal language, we took a life-changing step – we are going home, we are going to Russia.”

About a month into Russia’s war with Ukraine, Mr Bibilov said South Ossetia would take the legal steps necessary to join Russia.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

12:15 AM

No one know when war will end, says Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday night that although Ukrainians are doing everything they can to drive out the Russians, “no one today can predict how long this war will last.”

“This will depend, unfortunately, not only on our people, who are already giving their maximum,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “This will depend on our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world.”

He said he was thankful to all those who are working to strengthen the sanctions on Russia and increase military and financial support to Ukraine. “This is the only recipe for protecting freedom in the face of the Russian invasion. And for Western countries, this is not simply an expense. This is not about accounting, it’s about the future.”

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine on Friday shot down the 200th Russian aircraft of the war and he noted Russia’s heavy losses in tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters and drones.

11:59 PM

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