Russia plans to annex more of Ukraine in coming days, US official warns
- Russia previously annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014
- The city of Kherson was captured by Russia early in the invasion
- US would not recognise Kherson if annexed, the US official said
Russia is planning to expand its annexation strategy and engulf more parts of Ukrainian territory as part of a revamped assault on Eastern regions of the country, a senior United States official said.
Russia previously annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 and has maintained control since. Michael Carpenter, America's Ambassador Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, forecast a similar outcome for Kherson.
If annexed, the Souther city of Kherson would not recognised as a part of the Russian Federation by the United States, the Ambassador stated, according to reports from Associated Press.
While citing previously visible signs of a freedom vote in Kherson, the United States Ambassador said Kremlin would hold referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk and “try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy."
Ambassador Carpenter described the situation in Kherson and painted a picture that was similar to Crimea's story of 2014.
He said that mayors and other officials had been abducted, internet services had been cut off and Russia's school curriculum will soon be imposed. Multiple media reports suggest that the Russian ruble is already in circulation in Kherson.
With renewed attacks in Russia's Mariupol after just one day of evacuations, Southern and Eastern regions of Ukraine once again face uncertainty.
More than 100 people — including elderly women and mothers with small children — left Mariupol's rubble-strewn Azovstal steelworks Sunday and set out in buses and ambulances for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles to the northwest. Mariupol Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC that the evacuees were making slow progress.
The Azovstal steel-plant evacuation, if successful, would be rare progress in easing the human cost of the almost 10-week war, which has caused particular suffering in Mariupol.