Russia wants to “dissolve” Ukraine from the world map
Shortly after the US ambassador to the United Nations accused Russia of wanting to dismantle Ukraine “and dissolve it entirely from the map of the world”, intelligence analysts said that referendums on membership of the Russia were probably being prepared in the occupied territories in the south of the country.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council on Friday that the United States is seeing growing signs that Russia is preparing the ground to try to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
One of their tactics is to install “illegitimate proxies in Russian-controlled areas, with the aim of staging fictitious referenda or decree to join Russia,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “even said that this was Russia’s war objective”, she added.
Lavrov told an Arab summit in Cairo on Sunday that Moscow’s overriding goal in Ukraine was to free its people from their “unacceptable regime”.
He also suggested that Moscow’s war aims extend beyond the already occupied eastern and southern regions. “We will definitely help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” Lavrov said.
On Saturday, the UK Ministry of Defense suggested the wheels were turning on some of those plans. “In the newly occupied territories of southern Ukraine, Russian-installed authorities are most likely under increasing pressure from Moscow to consolidate their control over the region and prepare for referendums on joining Russia later in the year. ‘year,’ the ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter. “Local authorities are likely to compel people to divulge personal information in order to compile voter lists.”
In other developments:
- Ukraine’s military said on Saturday it killed dozens of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition depots in fighting in the Kherson region, at the center of the Kyiv counteroffensive in the south and a key link in supply lines from Moscow. It has used long-range missile systems supplied by the West to severely damage three bridges over the Dnipro in recent weeks, cutting off the city of Kherson, the first city captured by Russia after the February 24 invasion.
The first deputy head of the Kherson regional council, Yuri Sobolevsky, told residents to stay away from Russian munitions dumps. “The Ukrainian army is unleashed against the Russians and this is just the beginning,” Sobolevsky wrote on the Telegram app.
The strikes potentially further isolate Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and to the east. The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia had used pontoon bridges and a ferry system to compensate for destroyed bridges.
- Ukrainian and Russian officials have continued to blame each other for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Olenivka, an area controlled by separatists in the east of the country. Separatist authorities and Russian officials said the attack killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war and injured 75 others, figures that could not be independently confirmed. The Kyiv Independent reported that Ukrainian mediator Dmytro Lubinets said that Russia had not yet responded to his request for the identity of the victims and the recovery of their bodies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the death a “deliberate Russian war crime, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war” in a video address Friday night. “There should be clear legal recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Moscow opened an investigation into the attack, sending a team from Russia’s main criminal investigation agency to the site. State agency RIA Novosti reported that precision rocket fragments from the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System had been found at the site.
The Institute for the Study of War tweeted that “the available visual evidence seems to support the Ukrainian claims more than the Russians”. Ukraine has appealed to the International Criminal Court over the attack on the prison.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it requested access to the prison “to determine the health and condition of all those present at the time of the attack”.
“Our priority right now is to ensure that the injured receive life-saving care and that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are treated with dignity,” the Red Cross said in a statement.
- Russia’s state-owned natural gas company Gazprom halted shipments to NATO member Latvia on Saturday, saying Latvia was negotiating “gas extraction terms”, likely referring to the country’s refusal to pay the gas in rubles rather than other currencies. Gazprom has suspended shipments and played politics with gas supplies to other European Union countries, including suspending payments to the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria for not paying in rubles.
- Russian rockets hit a school building in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, the country’s second-largest city, overnight, and another attack came about an hour later, the mayor Ihor Terekhov. No injuries were reported immediately. The bus station in the city of Sloviansk was also hit, according to Mayor Vadim Lyakh. Sloviansk is close to the front line of fighting in the Donetsk region. In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six others injured in a bombardment that hit a residential area in Mykolaiv, a major port city, the region’s administration said on Saturday.
With pole wires