A new sign went up a few miles from the front line recently on the main billboard of an occupied town in Ukraine’s Luhansk region.

“Vote for our president. Together we’re strong,” read the sign in the white, blue and red colors of the Russian flag, according to Anastasiia, a resident.

The message was clear to her: That the president was Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, not Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and that Mr. Putin was the only choice in the Russian presidential vote taking place in…


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