By James FitzGerald
Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine are staging alleged "referendums" connected whether to articulation Russia, arsenic Moscow pushes up with an evident bid to annex territory from its neighbour.
Voting begins connected Friday successful 4 regions of Ukraine successful which Russia has gained crushed during its invasion.
Ukraine's Western allies person denounced the determination arsenic a onshore drawback and refused to recognise the results of the ballots.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was a "dangerous escalation".
Mr Blinken told the UN Security Council connected Thursday that nary Russian assertion to Ukrainian ungraded could instrumentality distant Ukraine's close to support itself.
In his Thursday nighttime address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the ballots were a "sham" and undemocratic.
The drawback votes were called earlier this week successful the eastbound regions of Luhansk and Donetsk - arsenic good arsenic Zaporizhzhia and Kherson successful the south.
The 4 regions correspond astir 15% of Ukraine, oregon an country the size of Hungary, according the Reuters quality agency.
Voting is scheduled to instrumentality spot implicit 5 days.
Russian media reported that electoral officials would spell from door-to-door with portable ballot boxes from Friday to Monday.
Polling stations volition lone run connected the 5th day, 27 September, with officials citing information reasons.
Hundreds of stations are scheduled to unfastened that day, with voters besides capable to formed ballots successful regions extracurricular their ain - and refugees eligible to ballot successful parts of Russia itself.
Parts of Luhansk and Donetsk - wherever voting papers volition beryllium written successful Russian lone - person been nether the power of Russian-backed separatists since 2014, with much territory taken this year.
Moscow took parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions erstwhile it invaded successful February.
If Russia proceeds to assertion Ukrainian onshore arsenic its own, it could marque the assertion that its territory - not conscionable its service - is coming nether onslaught from Western weapons supplied to Ukraine.
It is feared this could origin a further escalation successful the war.
Russia annexed Crimea successful confederate Ukraine successful 2014, done different alleged referendum that was likewise condemned arsenic illegitimate by the planetary community.
The caller ballots travel aft Wednesday's announcement from Russian President Vladimir Putin of a partial subject mobilisation, which could spot 300,000 radical called up to service successful the war.
The determination prompted a unreserved to the borders by men hoping to debar service, arsenic good arsenic uncommon unrest connected the streets of Russia that was followed by reports of hundreds of arrests.