Achi News Updates,
“Trespassing on Russian territory is a crime that allows you to use all the forces of self-defense,” Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and now the hawkish deputy head of Putin’s Security Council, said on social media.
Reframing the fighting in the occupied territory as an attack on Russia would give Moscow a justification for mobilizing its 2 million-strong military reserves. Moscow has so far resisted such a move despite mounting losses.
US national security adviser Jack Sullivan said Washington was aware of reports that Putin was considering ordering a mobilization. It would do nothing to undermine Ukraine’s ability to push back against Russian aggression, Sullivan said, adding that Washington “unequivocally” rejected such referendums.
Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, part of the Donbass region occupied by Moscow in 2014, as independent states. Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine controlled by Russian forces to be illegally occupied.
Russia now controls about 60% of Donetsk and captured almost all of Luhansk by July after slow advances during months of intense fighting.
Those gains are now under threat after Russian forces were driven out of neighboring Kharkiv province this month and lost control of key supply lines to the Donetsk and Luhansk front lines.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address released early Wednesday that “the situation on the frontline clearly indicates that there is an initiative with Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s position did not change because of “some noise” from Russia, Zelensky added in a reference to the referendums.
In the regional capital Kherson, the only major city Russia has so far captured intact since the invasion, Ukraine launched a major counteroffensive.
In the south, Russia controls most of Zaporizhia, but not its regional capital.
Becoming part of Russia would help resolve the conflict quickly, said Vladimir Rokov, Russia’s appointed official in Zaporizhzhya.
“This will show people with absolute clarity that Russia is always here to stay,” he said in a telegram. “They will quickly take the necessary decision, lay down their arms and go to their people, their countrymen.”