Home News Putin chooses escalation and wants to annex the occupied areas in Ukraine – Pierre Haski

Putin chooses escalation and wants to annex the occupied areas in Ukraine – Pierre Haski

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Putin chooses escalation and wants to annex the occupied areas in Ukraine – Pierre Haski

21 September 2022 10:14

After the impressive advance of the Ukrainian army, a response from Moscow was awaited. It came on September 20 in the form of a series of referendums that pave the way for Russia to annex large areas of Ukrainian territory. It is a political and potentially military escalation in a conflict that has lasted for almost seven months.

The referendums will take place on 23 and 26 September in the two breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (in eastern Ukraine), in the Zaporizhya region, where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located, and finally in Kherson, the southern city. conquered at the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Russia had already acted in the same way in 2014, after having occupied Crimea militarily. At the time, the referendum was followed by an annexation that only a few states recognized.

This time these pseudoreferendums, which convince no one and will be recognized only by Russia’s faithful allies (Belarus, Syria, North Korea), will take place in the midst of a merciless war.

In his own way, Vladimir Putin draws a “red line” for Ukraine and its Western supporters. In fact, by transforming these areas of Ukraine into Russian territories, Putin is imposing a change in the nature of the conflict.

Russian soldiers will no longer be able to refuse to fight on territory that has become national

From now on, if the Ukrainian army continues to advance, it will not recapture occupied areas, but will attack Russia. As a thesis it is a bit crude, but it has the advantage of transforming the aggressor into the attacked, justifying any escalation, including the most feared ones. Meanwhile, the “special military operation”, as the Kremlin has so far called it, could officially become a war, with general mobilization and a narrative that would parallel the “great patriotic war” of 1941. Legally, soldiers do not they will no longer be able to refuse to fight on a territory that has become national.

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On the evening of September 20, before a speech by Putin which was delivered only the next morning, the fear of a general mobilization circulated on Russian social networks, which on the 21st was confirmed as intended for reservists. Some users were already starting to look for ways to leave the country before they were called to serve.

Both the Ukrainian government and Western countries have criticized the consultations conducted by a foreign occupation force. “A provocation,” French President Emmanuel Macron commented on September 20 before the UN, in a particularly severe speech against what he called Russian “imperialism”.

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The Ukrainian army is unlikely to take these new borders into account. The Ukrainians have announced the reconquest of a locality in the province of Luhansk, one of those where the referendum will take place. Similarly, Ukrainian pressure around Cherson, another city called to vote, should not ease.

Moscow’s announcement shows that Putin has chosen, as expected, the path of escalation after the latest defeats. Only the head of the Kremlin knows how far he intends to go, but in the current context his latest choice clearly means more war, not less. The Ukrainians know this, and they are ready.

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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