Pro-Russian activists in Ukraine say they will ignore Vladimir Putin’s appeal to postpone Sunday’s independence referendum vote.
Many in Ukraine’s eastern regions stress the poll is the only way to prevent war.
Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-declared “People’s Republic of Donestsk” claims there is widespread support for making the referendum a reality.
“Against the backdrop of today’s events, military action taking place in towns across the region, against the backdrop of the genocide that happened in Odessa, the mood for holding the referendum is only rising in the people. It shouldn’t be postponed for any reason,” said Pushilin.
In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Russia’s President Putin called for the vote to be delayed in order to open to way for talks with Kyiv authorities.
Kyiv has rejected the referendum as illegitimate and vowed to press on with a campaign to regain control of at least ten cities and towns seized by separatists in the east.
Moscow denies playing any role in the upheaval.