On Thursday, Russia said that it will legally annexe some regions of Ukraine. These regions had just staged “referendums” on Moscow’s control that the Ukrainian government and the West deemed fraudulent and unlawful. Friday’s Kremlin event to formally annex four areas of Ukraine will be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Peskov stated that at the event at the Kremlin’s St. George’s Hall, the pro-Moscow regional leaders will sign agreements to join Russia.
Following the voting that ended on Tuesday in the Ukrainian regions where Russia has occupation, and after Moscow stated citizens overwhelmingly backed their districts’ formal annexation to Russia, the annexation was widely anticipated.
The voting have been roundly denounced as “sham” elections by the United States and its Western allies, who have sworn never to accept their results. On Thursday, Annalena Baerbock, the foreign minister of Germany, joined other Western officials in condemning the referendums.
She stated at a seminar in Berlin that “people are being pulled out of their homes or places of employment to vote in glass ballot boxes under threats and sometimes even (at) gunpoint.”
The reverse of free and fair elections, according to Baerbock. This is the complete opposite of tranquility. It has ordered peace. No civilian is secure as long as this Russian diktat is in place in the Ukrainian territory that are under occupation. No one has freedom.
In the five days of voting, armed troops had gone door to house with election officials to collect votes. After humiliating military defeats in Ukraine, the unusually large percentages in favor were interpreted as a land grab by a Russian leadership that was beginning to feel increasingly surrounded.
The four areas of southern and eastern Ukraine with Moscow-installed governments said Tuesday night that annexation was backed by 93% of votes cast in Zaporizhzhia, 87% in Kherson, 98% in Luhansk, and 99% in Donetsk.
The United States has backed Ukraine’s claim that the referendums are invalid and that it has every right to recapture the areas.
The criticism has had little impact on the Kremlin. After Ukraine’s counteroffensive inflicted Moscow’s forces significant tactical blows earlier this month, Russia announced it would mobilize 300,000 reserve soldiers to take part in the conflict. It also stated that it may use nuclear weapons.
Also on Thursday, Ukrainian officials reported that hundreds of people had been injured and at least eight civilians, including a toddler, had been killed by Russian bombardment. Officials said that a 12-year-old child was rescued from the wreckage during the attack on Dnipro.
The local administrator Valentyn Reznichenko claimed, “The rescuers have pulled her from under the wreckage; she was asleep when the Russian missile hit.”
According to a Washington-based think tank and British intelligence reports, reports of fresh shelling came as Russia appeared to be losing ground around the important northeastern city of Lyman as it struggles to advance with a disorganized mobilization of troops and stop the fighting-age men from leaving the country.
According to Russian sources cited by the Institute for the Study of War, Ukrainian forces have captured more villages around Lyman, a city located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. According to the article, Lyman may soon be completely encircled by Ukrainian forces, which would be a serious setback for Moscow’s military effort.
The institute predicted that the Russian grouping in the northern Donetsk and western Luhansk oblasts would suffer greatly from the collapse of the Lyman pocket and that Ukrainian forces could be able to pose a danger to Russian positions in the western Luhansk area.
According to a British military intelligence estimate, more men of military age are reportedly leaving Russia than were there when Russia first invaded Ukraine in February.
The British said that people trying to flee Russia were disproportionately wealthy and educated. “The domestic economic impact of lower labor availability and the acceleration of the ‘brain drain’ is expected to become increasingly important,” the study said.
However, this partial mobilization is extremely unpopular in some regions, leading to demonstrations, isolated acts of violence, and the mass exodus of Russians. At other crossings, miles-long lineups formed, and Moscow allegedly set up draft offices there to stop some people from trying to flee.
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