Russia prepares to annex occupied Ukraine despite outcry

KYIV: Russia ready to formally annex the fields of Ukraine where it had military control after referendums there endorsed Moscow’s rule.
But the ballots were widely recognized and received Kremlin Wednesday, there is no relief in the face of international pressure for their attack on the neighboring country.
The pro-Moscow administrations of all four occupied regions in southern and eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday evening that their residents had voted to join Russia in five days of a vote led by the Kremlin. organization.
According to Russian-installed election officials, 93% of votes in Zaporizhzhia regions in favor of annexation, 87% in Kherson region, 98% in Luhansk region and 99% in Donetsk.
Officials installed by Russia in those occupied areas said on Wednesday they would ask the President Vladimir Putin to incorporate them into Russia.
It was not immediately clear how the administrative process would unfold.
However, Western countries dismissed the votes as a pretense of nonsense orchestrated by Moscow in an attempt to legitimize the invasion of Ukraine launched on 24 February.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said late Tuesday that Washington would propose a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s “sham” vote.
The resolution would also urge member states not to recognize any altered status of Ukraine and demand that Russia withdraw its troops from the neighboring country, she tweeted.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, also weighed in on the ballots, calling them “illegal” on Wednesday and describing the results as “falsified”.
“This is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty (and) territorial integrity, (in the context of) systematic human rights violations,” Borrell tweeted.
In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called the ballots “a propaganda display” and “null and void.”
“Forcing people in these territories to fill out some paperwork before the barrel of a gun is another crime committed by Russia during its aggression against Ukraine,” a State Department statement said.
It requires the EU, NATO and the Group of Seven major industrialized nations will increase “immediate and substantial” pressure on Russia through new sanctions, while significantly increasing their military aid to Ukraine.
The EU also expressed outrage at the suspected sabotage of two underwater natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany and warned it would retaliate against any attacks on Europe’s energy grid.
Borrell said on Wednesday that “all available information indicates that those leaks were the result of a deliberate act,” although the perpetrators have so far not been identified.
“Any willful disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a strong and unified response,” said Borrell representing the 27 member states. EU member said in a statement.
The war in Ukraine has caused an energy standoff between the EU, many of which have for years depended mainly on Russian and Moscow natural gas supplies.
According to analysts, the damage prevented the pipelines from delivering any gas to Europe this winter.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military and a Washington-based think tank said on Wednesday that Russia would send troops without any training to the front lines.
Moscow has struggled to keep the edge ahead of Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive and has ordered a partial mobilization to replenish its ranks.
However, the effort is causing unrest amid public reluctance.
In a daily briefing, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army said that the 1st Tank Regiment of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division of the 1st Tank Army has received new soldiers who have not yet passed. train.
The Ukrainian military also said those sentenced to prison were coming to Ukraine to strengthen Russia’s defenses.
It did not provide evidence to support the claim, although Ukrainian security services have released audio of alleged Russian-surveilled phone conversations on the matter.
The Institute for the Study of War cited an online video of a man claiming to be a member of the 1st Tank Regiment, apparently very upset, saying that he and his colleagues would not be trained. created before moving to Russian-occupied areas. Kherson region in Ukraine.
“Men mobilized with a day or two of training are unlikely to meaningfully strengthen Russian positions affected by Ukrainian counterintelligence forces to the south and east,” the institute said. ‘ said the institute.
The UK Ministry of Defense says the Ukrainian counter-offensive, which has caused some humiliating defeats for Moscow’s forces, is progressing slowly.
It said Russia is now taking a stern defensive measure.
In the Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, which is partly occupied by Moscow, Russian fires have killed five people and injured 10 others in the past 24 hours, Pavlo Kyrylenkothe head of the local military agency.
Authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol said Russian rockets and artillery shelled the city overnight.
Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the local military government, said the city, which is located across the Dnipro River from Russian-occupied territory, has seen 10 high-rises and private buildings attacked, as well as one schools, power lines and other areas.

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