March 20, 2023

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Russia is preparing to annex the territory of Ukraine;  West warns of new sanctions

Russia is preparing to annex the territory of Ukraine; West warns of new sanctions

  • Russia says it overwhelmingly supports annexation
  • Russia’s parliament may consider annexation on Tuesday
  • Ukraine rejects referendums as illegal
  • The West is preparing for new sanctions on the referendums

ZAPORIZIA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia was preparing to annex a strip of Ukraine within days, unleashing what it called the number of votes showing overwhelming support in four provinces to join it, after Ukraine and the West denounced them as illegal fake referendums. Under the threat of the weapon.

On Red Square in Moscow, a theater with giant video screens was set up, with billboards proclaiming “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson – Russia!”

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament has said he may consider merging four partially occupied regions on October 4, three days before President Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday.

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The departments Russia set up in the four provinces have formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality.

“This should happen within a week,” Rodion Miroshnik, Russia’s appointed ambassador to Moscow for the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, told the state-run RIA news agency.

“The main thing has already happened – the referendum has taken place. So let’s say the locomotive has already started and is unlikely to stop.”

To annex the territory, which represents about 15% of Ukraine, some kind of treaty must be concluded and ratified by the Russian parliament, which is controlled by Putin’s allies. Then the regions will be seen as part of Russia and its nuclear umbrella will extend to it.

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Putin warned that he would use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory from attack. Read more

‘No one has been voted on’

Residents who fled to Ukraine-controlled areas in recent days spoke of people being forced to put up polling signs in the streets by roving officials at gunpoint. Footage filmed during the exercise showed Russian officials moving ballot boxes from house to house with armed men.

They can announce anything they want. No one voted in the referendum except for a few people who changed their allegiance. They moved from house to house but never came out. one”. Governorate.

Russia says the vote was voluntary, in line with international law, and the turnout was high. Referendums and the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčannexation were rejected globally, as was the case with Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to rally international support against annexation in a series of calls with foreign leaders, including those of Britain, Canada, Germany and Turkey.

“I thank you all for your clear and frank support. Thank you all for understanding our position,” Zelensky said in a late-night video address.

The United States has unveiled a $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine that includes 18 High Mobility Rocket Launchers (HIMARS), accompanying munitions, and various types of UAVs and radar systems. The announcement raises US security assistance to $16.2 billion.

The United States also said it would also impose new sanctions on Russia over the referendums and the European Union’s CEO suggested more sanctions, but the 27 EU member states would need to overcome their differences to implement them.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would need to keep fighting to gain control of all of Donetsk. About 40% are still under Ukrainian control.

Russia announced that it will mobilize about 300,000 reserve soldiers to reinforce its forces in Ukraine. The conscription campaign led to thousands of Russians fleeing to other countries.

On the ground, Ukrainian and Russian forces are engaged in heavy fighting, especially in the Donetsk region, where the governor said six civilians were killed in Russian attacks on Wednesday.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military said that during the past 24 hours, Russia launched three missiles and eight air strikes, and carried out more than 82 attacks from missile launch systems on military and civilian sites.

It added that the Ukrainian air force carried out 16 strikes on Wednesday that damaged or destroyed a number of Russian sites, while the ground forces destroyed two command posts.

Valentin Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said that three people were killed in the Russian bombing of Dnipro, the capital of the region, including a 12-year-old girl, and more than 60 buildings were damaged.

“Rescuers took her outside the damaged house where she was sleeping when a Russian missile landed,” he said on his Telegram channel.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

European energy

Gas leaked into the Baltic Sea for a third day after suspected explosions ruptured undersea pipelines built by Russia and European partners to send natural gas to Europe.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, once the main route for Russian gas to Germany, has been closed, but it cannot easily reopen now.

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NATO and the European Union have warned of the need to protect critical infrastructure from what they describe as “sabotage”, although officials stopped short of assigning blame.

The Interfax news agency quoted the Prosecutor General’s Office as saying that the FSB is investigating the damage to the pipelines as “international terrorism”.

Nord Stream pipelines have been flashpoints in the expanding energy war between Russia and European countries that has hurt Western economies and driven up gas prices.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. writing by Michael Berry; Editing by Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.