A move to acquire regions could be indicated by “referendum” announcements in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.
In a coordinated series of statements, four Russian-occupied districts in Ukraine have declared they intend to hold “referendums” on joining the Russian Federation, which may be a sign that the Kremlin has decided to formally annex the territory.
Following a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive that has helped it recapture significant amounts of territory in the Kharkiv region, Moscow may wager that a formal annexation would help stop Russian territorial losses.
However, the west and Ukraine have said they will not recognize the annexations, and they have also said that they will not be deterred by Russia’s new territorial claims.
According to Jake Sullivan, national security adviser for the White House, “These referenda are an assault on the ideals of sovereignty and territorial integrity that underpin the international system.”
The United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to any allegedly annexed regions of Ukraine if this should come to pass.
Josep Borrell, the head of the EU’s foreign policy, stated: “All those participating in these “referenda” and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable, and new restrictive measures against Russia will be considered.”
As of this week, the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk have declared themselves prepared to conduct rigged “polls,” with announcements also coming from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. According to the Russian media, Vladimir Putin might speak on a prospective annexation on Tuesday night.
Russia may be concerned that it can’t win on the battlefield as Ukrainian forces advance in the Luhansk region and risk a possible escalation, including a formal declaration of war or even a nuclear assault, by claiming to defend its territory.
According to Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik and an authority on Kremlin politics, “everything that is happening today is an unmistakable ultimatum to Ukraine and the west.” “There will either be nuclear war or Ukraine will withdraw.”
Putin is prepared to stage referendums right away to secure the right (in his view) to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory to guarantee “winning.”
The Russian state Duma also adopted new legal code amendments on Tuesday that specifically mention “mobilization” and “martial law” and establish criminal culpability for desertion or deliberate surrender during that time.
Up until now, the Kremlin has resisted a complete mobilization, probably out of concern for a political backlash. Experts have also questioned whether a Russian mobilization would stop the Ukrainian advance, which has taken back more than 3,000 square miles in the past month, in the short term.
Political expert Ekaterina Schulmann stated, “There is one issue. “They’re anticipating the other side is going to stop and wait – apparently out of respect for the Russian parliamentary process,” one observer said. “The administrative aspect of adding new territory takes time, mobilizing and integrating mobilizingmobilized forces takes time.”
But now, it appears that the Kremlin may be more eager than ever to use nuclear blackmail to halt the conflict and secure its territorial gains in Ukraine.
The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin have not openly endorsed the choice. However, proposals for the referendums have received backing from prominent Russian leaders, including the late president Dmitry Medvedev.
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