The Kremlin hopes to annex the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, as does Crimea, a top Russian lawmaker said Tuesday.
Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula to Ukraine in 2014, holding a referendum later condemned as illegal by the West.
“The admission of the Kherson region to Russia will be complete, as in Crimea,” State Duma member Igor Kastyukevich wrote in a report, following a visit by Deputy Chief of Staff of the presidential administration Sergei Kiriyenko in the region.
It is believed to be the first time a Kremlin official has publicly pleaded for the Ukrainian region to be part of Russia. Previously, the leader of the ruling party, United Russia, promised that Russia stay in southern Ukraine “forever”.
Kastyukevich’s report also stated that Kirienko promised to give residents Russian passports and public payments from the Russian budget during his visit to a United Russia volunteer center in Kherson.
The city of Kherson and its surrounding neighborhoods were the first major Ukrainian region to fall to Russian forces after Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24. Russian forces have since installed pro-Moscow “military-civilian administrations” in occupied areas and introduced Russian currency. , media and Internet services.
Ukraine says around 600 people are being held for resisting Russian rule in occupied Kherson and claims they are being tortured.
Tamila Tasheva, permanent representative of the Ukrainian presidency in Crimea, said most of those detained were “journalists and activists” who organized “pro-Ukrainian rallies” in the city of Kherson and its surrounding region.
The Kremlin on Tuesday refuse a state media report based on unnamed sources that the status of the occupied territories would not be negotiable in future peace talks with Ukraine.
AFP contributed reporting.