A large number of Russian officials have held important positions in Ukraine’s occupied territories, which analysts describe as preparations by Russia to annex these Ukrainian territories. The Moscow Times.
Russian officials who have held leadership positions in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine since last week include a former member of the Russian parliament, local leaders and a high-ranking FSB officer.
“Russians are being sent there to bring Russian standards,” political analyst Ivan Probrazhensky told The Moscow Times. “Moscow wants a referendum [de a se alătura Rusiei] It looks like the Russians will prepare everything.”
How to try to integrate the occupied territories into Russia’s sphere of influence
This “parachute” of Russian officials to the leadership of the occupied territories of Ukraine is the latest signal from Russia that it wants to draw these regions into its sphere of influence.
The Kremlin has taken other measures in this regard, such as annexing Ukrainian cities to Russian cities, issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians in the occupied territories, and introducing Russian banks and mobile operators in these regions.
The most prominent Russian government official sent to Ukraine so far is Andriy Gosenko, a former member of the Russian parliament who is now deputy head of the “civil-military administration” of the occupied territories of the Zaporozhye region.
According to an official announcement, Kozenko will deal with the economic integration of the Ukrainian region in Russia. A day before Gosenko’s appointment, former FSB officer Sergei Eliseev was appointed head of government in the occupied Kherson region.
Why are pro-Russian Ukrainians refusing to lead the occupied territories?
According to Konstantin Skorkin, a policy expert on eastern Ukraine, one of the reasons Russia has to rely on its own authorities to manage the occupied territories is the refusal of pro-Russian Ukrainians to occupy these positions.
“Despite the fact that Ukrainian parties are perceived as pro-Russian and have considerable support in these regions, most MPs refuse to cooperate with the occupation authorities,” Skorkin said.
“In Kherson, for example, people are not sure that these areas will join Russia, because Ukraine can recapture them at any moment.”
Other Ukrainians are reluctant to cooperate with Russia because of several assassinations targeting Moscow-led officials in Ukraine. For example, Dmytro Savlushenko, who was in charge of the family, youth and sports directorate in Russian-occupied Kherson, died last month when a bomb exploded in his car.
Some Russian officials participated in the annexation of Crimea
Along with the former FSB officer, two other Russian officers, Mikhail Rodikov and Vladimir Bespalov, were appointed to leadership positions in Kherson this week.
Bespalov, a former deputy minister of the Kaliningrad region, will be in charge of domestic policy, while Rodikov, a Moscow official, has been named education and science minister.
Some of the newly appointed officials already have experience in integrating Ukrainian regions with Russia, as they have already worked in Crimea since its annexation by Moscow in 2014.
The separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have also received Russian officials in recent weeks. Vitaly Hatchenko, a former top official at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was appointed prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic last month, and a former deputy governor of Russia’s Kurgan region has been given the leadership post in the Luhansk People’s Republic.
The annexation of the occupied parts of southern Ukraine could be annexed in the fall
“Russia is allocating a lot of money to the reconstruction of Donbas, and Moscow does not trust the local authorities,” Skorkin said. Russia could spend up to 3.5 trillion rubles ($60 billion) rebuilding occupied Ukraine, according to separatist officials.
Russian administrations in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have already announced plans to hold annexation referendums in Russia, which could take place this year, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin saying at the start of the war that Russia had no plans to annex the Ukrainian territories.
“It’s nothing [a regiunilor] Until the fall,” said Nicholas van Twickel, a former OSCE employee and expert on the Donbass situation. “Until now, the Kremlin tried to follow the rules of the game, but that time is over.”
Author: Raul Nesoyu
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