Russia steps up deportations, as Putin imposes martial law on illegally annexed regions of Ukraine – POLITICO

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday imposed martial law in the four regions of Ukraine illegally annexed by Kremlin forces, amid mass deportations of Ukrainians to Russia and as Moscow sets the stage for further territory losses .

Kremlin-backed authorities in the Ukrainian city of Kherson plan to “relocate” around 50,000 to 60,000 people to Russian territory, Moscow-based regional governor Vladimir Saldo said in a television interview on Tuesday.

Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region, called it “a new manifestation of genocide in the occupied territories”, adding that Russia is planning a “forced deportation of an entire city” while claiming to “protect the people of hostilities”. in an attempt to create an outpost of the “Russian world” in southern Ukraine.

Similar mass forced deportations have been reported in other Russian-held regions of Ukraine, with Kremlin-installed authorities appearing to be particularly focused on removing Ukrainian children.

Under international humanitarian law, the forced mass deportation of people during armed conflict is considered a war crime. The “forcible transfer of children” is classified as genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits attempts to destroy national, ethnic, racial or religious groups as a result of the Holocaust.

When asked if the EU planned to recognize that the mass deportations of Ukrainians, especially children, to Russia constituted genocide, a spokesman for the European Commission said on Wednesday “it is not not for us to call it genocide,” adding that it would be for an “international forum to do so.”

Putin’s introduction of martial law in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, which were illegally annexed by Russia, is seen as a largely symbolic move, as the Kremlin’s fortunes on the battlefield declines amid the loss of large tracts of territory to Kyiv. counteroffensive.

Kremlin Commander-in-Chief overseeing the war on Ukraine Sergey Surovikin on Tuesday evening laid the groundwork for a Russian withdrawal from Kherson ahead of a planned Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region, announcing the need to make “tough decisions during his first major media appearance. since he took office earlier this month.

Since Putin appointed Surovikin as the new commander-in-chief, Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure in cities around Ukraine, including Kyiv, using suicide drones from Iran as well as missiles and rocket strikes to terrorize Ukrainians.


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