Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a signing ceremony for the annexation of four Ukrainian-occupied territories (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporiza) in Moscow on the 30th (local time). Despite the warning from the international community that “we will not recognize forced annexation by force,” he is pushing for annexation. US President Joe Biden used the word “never” three times in a row, stressing that he would not accept the outcome of the merger. There are forecasts that Russia, which is on the defensive, will raise the level of attack on Ukraine with the territorial annexation for a phase change.
○ Russia and occupied territories are forced to unite
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a memorial speech at the signing ceremony of the annexation agreement at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow at 3 pm on the same day. The heads of the states of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporiza will officially sign to annex Russia. Once the annexation agreement is signed, the territorial incorporation is completed through the process of ratification by the Senate and the House of Representatives and the final signature of President Putin. Russia’s forced territorial annexation will take place eight years after Ukraine annexed Crimea.
The territory controlled by Russia in these four regions is about 15% of the total area of Ukraine. It is equivalent to the total area of Portugal. Earlier, on the 29th, Putin signed a proclamation recognizing the independence of Kherson and Zaporiza. Before the invasion of Ukraine in February this year, Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast declared independence, and granted the status of independent states to these regions, paving the way for annexation. Russia held a referendum in the occupied territories on the 23rd and 27th to ask for or against annexation. According to the four regional electoral commissions, the approval rate for each region reached 87-99%.
Ukraine suggested a harsh response. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will convene an emergency meeting with defense officials on the 30th, when a signing ceremony for the merger will take place. “An important decision will be taken at this meeting,” an official said, Reuters reported.
Most countries except Russia said they did not recognize the result of the merger. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said on the same day that “Any decision made on the territory of Ukraine by vote has no legal effect. “The annexation of another country’s territory by force violates the UN Charter and international law,” he said. President Biden also reiterated that he would “never, never, never, never concede Russian claims to Ukrainian territory.” Russia’s traditional allies, including Serbia and Kazakhstan, also said they would not recognize Russia’s forced annexation.
○ Putin aims to increase approval ratings
It is analyzed that Russia’s attempt to suppress territories is to ensure the cause of the war which has been going on for seven months. This is because if the four occupied territories are incorporated into Russian territory, the defense of Ukraine can be considered an ‘attack’ and a general offensive can be launched. Putin previously threatened to use nuclear weapons if necessary to defend Russian territory.
There is also an interpretation that Russia, embarrassed by the Ukrainian counterattack, is trying to reverse the situation. Andranik Migranyan, a professor at the Moscow Institute of International Relations, told Al Jazeera, an Arabic-language media outlet, “After the Ukrainian army recaptured the northeastern region of Kharkiv earlier this month, Russia decided that decisive measures were needed to retake his leadership. ” “There is no doubt that Russia has crossed the Rubicon,” said Senator Konstantin Zatulin of the ruling United Russia party. It is supposed to give.”
Putin also expects a rebound in approval ratings. After the annexation of Crimea, President Putin’s approval rating jumped from 60% to 80%. After the mobilization of reserve forces on the 21st, public opinion in Russia is boiling over. After the mobilization order, a poll showed that the approval rating for Putin fell below 80% for the first time since the start of the war.
Ukrainian forces continue their counteroffensive, focusing on Donetsk and Luhansk.
According to Reuters, citing military experts on the 29th, “Ukrainian forces are narrowing the siege of Lyman, Russia’s core stronghold in Donetsk, and another victory is likely to be struck.”
Correspondent Semin Heo [email protected]