Legitimizing the occupation of Ukrainian territories appears today as one of the main objectives of Vladimir Putin. That is to say, beyond the attacks, the bombings and the attacks against the Ukrainian population, the president wants to take control of it for granted. To achieve this, his plan is to carry out referendums manipulated and controlled by his officials.
Russia is preparing the annexation of areas that will allow it to establish new borders: the already known Donbas (made up of the areas of Donetsk, Lugansk), Zaporizhia (with the largest nuclear plant in Europe) and Kherson. If one takes into account that the Putin regime already seized Crimea in 2014 under the same modus operandi, then one would be talking about a quarter of Ukraine invaded and “legitimized” with votes.
But the impartiality of those votes is ruled out. They are territories controlled by pro-Russian authorities, besieged by their army and devastated by war. Then, factors come together that would help Moscow to achieve its planned objective for the European autumn, before the counteroffensive planned by Ukraine to expel the Russians.
The “new phase” of the war
Taking not only “the people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk, but also the Kherson region, Zaporizhia “and a number of other territories,” was something that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently admitted. His words were followed days later by a British intelligence report in which he warns that the war in Ukraine is about to enter “a new phase.”
In this regard, the United Kingdom handles two hypotheses, due to “a significant increase in Russian forces in southern Ukraine”: that the Russians are preparing a new assault on Ukraine; or on the contrary, they foresee a Ukrainian counteroffensive and are managing their defense. Be it one or the other, the truth is that the processes for these referendums are being launched, revealing another example of Russian authoritarianism.
Zaporizhia: it is in the news in recent days because its nuclear power plant is taken over by the Russians. There, by order of the head of the civil and military administration in the southern territories, they will begin the organization of a referendum for the annexation of the region. 70% of the region is invaded.
Kherson: the idea of a referendum was circulated in March, but it was in June that the Russian-imposed authorities announced votes for the fall, convinced that “the population of the province will vote in favor of their accession.”
Lugansk and Donetsk: they are analyzed together since both make up Donbas and were declared by Putin as “republics” before the invasion began. The next step after declaring them “independent” is elections “with fabricated votes”, as the US denounced. In mid-July Lugansk created its own committee to prepare for accession.
Fear of Ukrainian counterattack
Russia is preparing the annexation of several territories knowing the enormous military cost that this implies, but in return, it guarantees Putin greater power and a declaration of strength against the West. However, experts rule out that it has the objective of taking over all of Ukraine.
For that, Russia would need more than 300,000 soldiers on the ground, plus all the logistics and some 135,000 reserve soldiers to refresh the troops. What most worries Moscow is the offensive that Ukraine is preparing to recover territories. Everything indicates that Putin is putting his foot on the accelerator before Ukraine attacks.
According to a representative of the government of Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kherson and Zaporizhia the invaders have opened polling stations and the process of issuing Russian passports is actively working. It will only be a matter of time, with both sides waiting while Russia prepares the annexation and Ukraine its new offensive.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government issued another important warning a few hours ago. Russia “cannot recruit the electorate that would help them simulate the same fake referendum.” This is why they resort to intimidating people and creating “false” voter lists.