Russia is reportedly moving forward with plans to hold staged votes that would enable it to annex parts of Ukraine where its army has taken control.
“Across the newly occupied territories in southern Ukraine, Russian-installed authorities are highly likely under increasing pressure from Moscow to consolidate their control over the region and prepare for referendums on joining Russia later in the year,” the UK Ministry of Defense said Saturday in an intelligence update posted on Twitter. “Local authorities are likely coercing the population into disclosing personal details in order to compose voting registers.”
The assessment followed warnings from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations stating that Russia plans to dismantle Ukraine “and dissolve it from the world map entirely.”
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the U.N. Security Council Friday that the United States sees increasing signs that Russia is laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
One of their tactics is installing “illegitimate proxy officials in Russian-held areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda or decree to join Russia,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “has even stated that this is Russia’s war aim,” she added.
Lavrov told an Arab summit in Cairo on Sunday that Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptable regime.”
He also suggested that Moscow’s war aims extend beyond the already occupied eastern and southern regions. “We will certainly help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” Lavrov said.
With Post wires