A separatist region in another nation once under Soviet control is set to vote on joining Russia amid the conflict in Ukraine.
South Ossetia, a region in the country of Georgia whose northern boundary borders Russia, has set a vote to join the country on July 17, fulfilling a statement its leader made in March to take the legal steps necessary to join the country, according to the Associated Press.
“We did it!” South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov wrote. “In legalese, we fulfilled yet another important legal requirement. And in normal language, we took a life-changing step — we are going home, we are going to Russia.”
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Russia has exercised effective control over South Ossetia since fighting a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Most of the world considers the region to be a part of Georgia, but a few countries, including Russia, view it as an independent state.
Georgia and Moldova, another nation with a history of territorial disputes with Russia, submitted applications to join the European Union on March 3, just a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
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Some global leaders have pushed for land swaps to bring Russia's invasion of Ukraine to an end. French President Emmanuel Macron urged Ukraine to offer territorial concessions to Russia to end the war and "to help Putin save his face," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, but Zelensky also noted that Ukraine was "not ready to help someone to save something and lose our territories for it."
Tens of thousands of people have died and millions of Ukrainians have been displaced since the outset of the war.