(DCWatchdog.com) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to annex more territories of Ukraine amid their ongoing war, and the US government has found “ample evidence” to that end, a US spokesman has announced.
The war in Ukraine is about to enter its sixth month now, as, on February 24, Putin sent 200,000 troops to invade Russia’s democratic, pro-American neighbor from three sides.
The Ukrainian defenders have successfully stopped the Russians, largely thanks to the ongoing US military supplies they receive.
This is the Moscow dictator’s second invasion of Ukraine after, back in 2014, his troops seized the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea and much of the Donbas region in the southeast.
Russia controls about 20% of Ukraine’s original, pre-2014 territory.
John Kirby, the national security spokesman of the US government, announced on Tuesday that local collaborators with the Russians installed as officials by the invaders are planning to hold “sham referendums.”
Once those are held, their results will be used as a fake legal justification for Russia to make the said territories part of itself – which is what it did back in March 2014 with the strategically important Crimean Peninsula.
Kirby, a retired US Navy admiral, told reporters in Washington, DC, as cited by The Hill, that Russia is preparing to annex the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in Southern Ukraine and of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas in Southeast Ukraine.
“Russia is laying the groundwork to annex more Ukrainian territory that it controls, in direct violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Kirby said.
He added the Kremlin intends to follow its “annexation playbook” from Russia’s annexation of Crimea eight years ago. That will include making the Russian ruble the currency of the said regions and establishing Russian banks there.
Kirby stated it remains unclear exactly when Putin’s regime would go ahead with its annexation plans. However, Ukrainian commentators and exiled Russian dissidents believe that there are two dates that Putin is considering.
Those are September 11 – because it is the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US; and December 30, which will mark the 100th anniversary since the formal founding of the former Soviet Union back in 1922.
Even as Putin has designs to annex South and Southeast Ukraine, the Ukrainian troops plan to reconquer at least the Kherson region before a “sham” Russian referendum can be held. They are presently about 10 miles from Kherson, a city of 300,000 people.