Russia takes steps to annex separatist regions in Ukraine: NPR


A boy rides a bicycle near an armored tank with a Ukrainian flag in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian armed forces, in the Kharkiv region on Monday. Russian troops occupied Izium on April 1.

Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


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Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Russia takes steps to annex separatist regions in Ukraine: NPR

A boy rides a bicycle near an armored tank with a Ukrainian flag in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian armed forces, in the Kharkiv region on Monday. Russian troops occupied Izium on April 1.

Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

MOSCOW – Russia moved today to annex parts of Ukraine it controls, as leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics said they would hold a four-day referendum to officially join the Russian Federation, starting Friday.

The instant vote announcement was followed by nearly identical announcements in the partially Russian-occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

“The long-suffering people of Donbass deserve to be part of a great country, which they have always considered their homeland,” Denis Pushillin, the separatist leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, wrote in a letter. to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The choreographed series of events was reminiscent of the Russian leader’s announcement to send tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in February – following sudden calls for ‘security guarantees’ from the self-declared republics of the country. eastern Ukraine.

If the referendums go as planned, they would take place against the backdrop of a swift Ukrainian counter-offensive that has seen Russian forces cede large swathes of territory in the Kharkiv region, in what the Kremlin insists This is a limited “Special Military Operation” for Date.

However, in a social media post, Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and current deputy secretary of the Kremlin security council, insisted the votes would give Moscow the right to mobilize additional forces.

“Encroachment on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all self-defense forces,” Medvedev said in a message on Telegram.

Observers saw the moves as an attempt to give quasi-legal backing to expand a military campaign that the Kremlin has barred Russians from calling a war.

This decision “formally gives Putin the right and, so to speak, a moral justification, to rebrand the special operation as a war and to go towards mobilization and hit Ukrainian targets, which had not been hit before. , and even to threaten nuclear war in the abstract,” writes Alexander. Baunov, Russian analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Members of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, on Tuesday passed sweeping legislation introducing prison terms of up to 15 years for acts of war – including surrender and desertion – among its forces. It has long been thought that the Russian forces suffered from low morale among their troops.

The bill – which must be approved by Russia’s upper house before moving on to Putin’s signature – seemed like an early signal that the Kremlin was moving towards a long-rumored mass mobilization of its people. .


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