December 3, 2022

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Russia's parliament begins ratification process for annexation as Moscow struggles to define borders

Russia’s parliament begins ratification process for annexation as Moscow struggles to define borders

Kyiv, Ukraine

Russia’s legislature on Monday began the process of approving President Vladimir Putin The decision to annex four parts of UkraineDespite the fact that the Kremlin does not fully control those territories and has not settled on the exact boundaries of the territories it is trying to absorb.

Legislative approval of the annexation, which is illegal under international law, is expected to be a formality, although it will take two days. Putin and his allies effectively control both branches of the Russian legislature, and the space for political opposition in Russia has shrunk in recent years.

But the maneuvers inside the ornate halls of the Kremlin stand in stark contrast to the facts on the ground on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces suffered A series of sudden defeats in eastern Ukraine, forcing them to retreat and abandon several positions in the areas that the Kremlin announced it would annex. Much of the territory Moscow claims in the Donetsk region is under the control of Ukrainian forces, and the Kremlin appears unsure of the exact boundaries of the areas it plans to annex. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow needed to “continue consultations” with local residents before demarcating its borders.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky He said on Sunday that the country had recaptured Lyman, while the Ukrainian army said it had recaptured the neighboring villages of Drubyshev and Torsky, Kyiv is in a better position as it seeks to retake the Luhansk region.

Pro-Russian officials said on Monday that Ukrainian forces have moved into the Luhansk region, almost all of which is under the control of Russia or forces allied with Russia. Ukrainian forces liberated the village of Belhorivka in Luhansk at the end of September and have now gained a foothold in the Lyschansk direction. Lysychansk was the last Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk before Kyiv withdrew its forces in July.

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In a third district, Kherson, Ukrainian forces are advancing and capturing several villages and settlements, including the Zolota Balka on the western bank of the Dnipro River, according to a Ukrainian regional official and pro-Russian military blogger. On Sunday, Zelensky said that the Ukrainian army had captured Arkhangelsky and Mirolyubivka.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin He said in an interview with CNN on Sunday He believes Ukraine is “making progress” in Kherson, thanks in part to the weapons provided by Washington.

“What we are seeing now is a kind of change in the dynamics of the battlefield,” Austin said. “They did very well in the Kharkiv region and moved to take advantage of opportunities. The fight in – Kherson region is going a little slower, but they are making progress. ”

The losses have drawn an unusual amount of criticism from pro-Russian propaganda in recent days. A prominent pro-government Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, said that Russian forces had to retreat to the strategically important city of Lyman because it lacked manpower and poorly communicated, and officers there also made “mistakes”.

Donetsk and Luhansk are two of the four regions that Russia has said it will annex. Both are home to Russian-backed breakaway republics, and fighting has raged in both since 2014.

The other two regions, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, lie in southern Ukraine and were occupied by Russian forces shortly after the invasion began in late February.

In an official speech in the Kremlin’s opulent St. George’s Hall on Friday, Putin announced that Russia would go ahead with the annexation of those four regions, after so-called referendums in those regions led to results purportedly showing that the majority of people living there voted. In favor of accession to Russian sovereignty.

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The competitions were widely criticized as a farce that failed to meet internationally recognized standards for free and fair elections. Reports from the ground indicated that the vote was conducted Basically and character at gunpoint.

Countries around the world quickly condemned Putin’s announcement of the annexation of the territories. G7 members – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States – and the European Union have said they will never recognize the Kremlin’s sovereignty over the regions and vowed to “impose additional economic costs on Russia”.

European Union member states began summoning Russian ambassadors in a coordinated manner on Friday to “convey a strong condemnation of these actions” and demand an “immediate cessation of steps that undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity and violate the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” a spokesman for the bloc said.