KYIV, Ukraine – Russian proxies in the occupied regions of Ukraine on Wednesday called on President Vladimir V. Putin to join Russia, kicking off what is expected to last several days and procedures aimed at giving Russia’s annexation scheme a legit beauty.
The moves are intended to mark checkboxes under Russian law and the Russian constitution in the process of claiming land in a neighboring country that most of the rest of the world considers illegal.
The referendums held in the occupied regions of Ukraine were urgently conducted last week after Russia suffered defeat on the battlefield. After five days of phased voting, during which many residents said they were coerced into voting by armed soldiers, Russian proxies in the occupied areas have announced the results. showed, as expected, overwhelming support for joining Russia.
With clear results in hand, the trustees asked the Russian government to incorporate their territories into Russia in informal protests launched on Wednesday morning.
The aim is to declare parts of Ukraine as Russian territory and then assert that the Ukrainian military is attacking Russia and not vice versa. The annexation would also provide an excuse to bring Ukrainians into the occupied areas and force them to fight other Ukrainians.
The Russian army only controls part of the four provinces and is losing ground. But if Russia follows suit template Set out to annex the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, the Kremlin will present military-installed local leaders as independent actors. In that case, a carefully compiled multi-step process followed.
Mr. Putin could pause the process at any stage, possibly leaving the prospect of negotiations open with the threat of takeover clearly on the table. If he fails to do so, the next step will be to submit an appeal from Russia’s proxies for approval by both chambers of the Russian Parliament. There will be a few surprises here: Both houses are composed entirely of members loyal to Mr. Putin.
In two of the four provinces that in recent days have held votes in referendums to join Russia Donetsk and Luhansk Moscow established client countries 8 years ago. Kicking off the merger process, the leaders of these entities set off for Moscow on Wednesday, saying they would speak directly with Mr. Putin.
In the other two, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, puppet leaders on Wednesday declared independence from Ukraine in what they say is the first step toward integration into Russia, a form necessary because under the five-year constitution. 1993 of Russia, Moscow cannot annex areas of a neighboring country without the consent of the country.
Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said he would arrive in Moscow with a document signed by members of the electoral commission showing the results for use in the merger process, said Tass, the firm. Russian news agency reported. The leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, is also said to be on his way to Moscow and posted a video online asking Putin to accept what he called the election results.
In the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, the leader occupied by Russian troops last spring, Volodymyr Saldo, also publicly called on Putin to consider accepting Kherson as part of Russia.
So far, Putin has remained tight-lipped about his plans. His spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said Putin traveled from the Black Sea resort of Sochi to Moscow on Wednesday but planned to make no public comment on the referendum.