Russia takes steps to annex Ukrainian territory, US says

The British Ministry of Defense said that Russian forces, which had seized Luhansk province in the Donbas after weeks of intense shelling, were likely to use the same tactics to capture Donetsk.

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WASHINGTON – The White House said on Tuesday that it has intelligence indicating that Russia is taking steps to annex parts of Ukraine.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House in the public domain that Russia intends to try to annex more Ukrainian territory.

Kirby added that the United States observed a similar Russian play in 2014 before the Kremlin annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea.

“Russia is installing authorized officials illegally in areas under Ukraine’s control. We know their next moves,” Kirby said.

“We want to make that clear to the American people. No one is fooled by it,” he added.

The former Pentagon spokesman said Moscow is trying to set up branches of Russian banks to create a path for the ruble to become the default currency in areas it wants to annex. Kirby also said that Russian forces are controlling broadcast towers to control communications.

The US also believes that Moscow is forcing Ukrainians to apply for Russian citizenship and issue Russian passports.

The latest revelation comes as the first lady of Ukraine visits the White House amid Russia’s near-constant shelling of cities and towns in Donetsk.

Kirby also said the Biden administration is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine. The upcoming package, the 16th US package, will be tailored to the hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

The US has provided about $8 billion in security assistance since the war began in late February, including about $2.2 billion in the past month.

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