What Russia intends to do with the occupied territories of southern Ukraine

Updated on 05/19/2022 at 17:41

  • The capture of much of Ukraine’s southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia is Moscow’s only real military success since the Russian invasion began nearly three months ago.
  • How Russia intends to proceed in the occupied territories is becoming increasingly clear.
  • The annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 serves as a model.

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In the Ukraine war, there are growing signs that Russia, contrary to its protests, is planning to annex Ukrainian territories. The Russian Prime Minister of Crimea, annexed by Russia, sees the Ukrainian peninsula connected to the two occupied regions of Cherson and Zaporizhia. “I see our future together, within the borders of one state,” Sergey Aksyonov said in an interview with Russian TV channel Millet published on Wednesday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin became even clearer during a visit to the small town of Melitopol, occupied by the Russian army: “I think that the perspective of the region (Zaporizhia) lies in the work in our harmonious Russian family,” Chusnullin said. , according to the RBK news agency.

Read also : All current information about the war in Ukraine in the live ticker

He came to provide “maximum help” in integrating the area, Chusnullin said. The region can help supply Russia with construction materials that the country lacks, the government official said. At the same time, he said that the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant – the most powerful in Europe – which was captured by Russian troops at the beginning of March, should in future supply electricity to Ukraine only if she pays it. The regional capital of Zaporizhia itself is still controlled by Ukrainian troops.

The areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian troops with the location of the steel plant in Mariupol. (Warning: This infographic will be updated regularly)

© dpa infographie GmbH

Land link between Crimea, separatist areas and Russia

On Monday, during a visit to the Kherson region west of Zaporizhia, Chusnullin claimed the area. There, Moscow-appointed authorities had already introduced the Russian ruble as the official currency on May 1. On Wednesday, they also announced that they would seek inclusion of the southern Ukrainian region in the Russian Federation. The Kremlin said it was up to Kherson residents to “decide their fate”.

Since the start of the war in February, Moscow’s only real military success has been the capture of most of the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. The conquests made it possible to establish a land link between Crimea, the pro-Russian separatist region of Donetsk and Russia. The region of Cherson, in the north of Crimea annexed by Moscow in 2014, is also crucial for the water supply of the peninsula.

Ukrainian officials had previously warned that Russia could hold a pro forma “referendum” in Kherson, similar to that on the Crimean peninsula, to consolidate its control over the region. A US representative also warned in early May that Russia was planning a manipulated referendum on connecting the region.

The flag of Russia is hoisted on a government building in the city of Kherson. (Picture taken on April 9, 2022)


Proceed as in 2014 in Crimea

The deputy head of the pro-Russian military and civil administration in Kherson, Kirill Stremusov, said on Wednesday that the authorities would submit a request to make Kherson a “full-fledged part of the Russian Federation”. His comments suggested authorities wanted to address their concerns directly to President Vladimir Putin without letting locals vote on the measure.

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Such fateful decisions must have a legal context, a legal justification, to be fully legitimate, as was the case with Crimea.” In 2014, Russia held an internationally unrecognized referendum on the Black Sea peninsula in Crimea to incorporate Ukrainian territory.

Putin has always justified the invasion of Ukraine by the accusation of oppression of the Russian-speaking population. However, he had declared that Russia did not want to occupy Ukraine. Even officially, the Kremlin has so far only declared the “liberation” of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as a war objective. A few weeks ago, however, a Russian commander unveiled Moscow’s army plans to annex all of southern Ukraine. (afp/dpa/mf)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is preparing the people of his country, which is under attack from Russia, for a longer war. In his video speech, he also gave hope to residents of Russian-occupied areas in the south. Thumbnail: Imago

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