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Will Russia Follow the 2014 Crimea Playbook for Kherson Annexation?

Ukraine
Russian tank firing main gun. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russian-appointed authorities in the Ukrainian city of Kherson announced plans to annex the region on Wednesday. The deputy head of Russia’s regional military-civilian administration Kirill Stremousov said that by the end of the month, a bank will be established in the area for local people to convert their Ukrainian hryvnia currency into Russian rubles.

As Russia continues efforts to take control of the eastern region of Ukraine, Russian troops have focused heavily on establishing a land bridge between Crimea – which was annexed by Russia in 2014 – and the separatist Donbas region. Kherson sits on the Dnieper River and is home to Ukraine’s large shipbuilding industry. Kherson is not part of the planned land bridge, but it is one of the few areas where Russian troops have full control and is located to the northeast of Russian-controlled Crimea.

How Will Russia Annex Kherson?

For weeks, local intelligence suggested that Russian officials were printing ballots in preparation for a series of “pseudo-referendums” designed to justify Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory in the east. In 2014, Russia used referendums in Crimea and Sevastopol to justify annexation.

According to Stremousov, however, no referendums will be held this time.

“There will be no referendums,” the Russian-appointed leader of the Kherson regional administration said. “It will be a decree based on an appeal from the Kherson regional leadership to the Russian president.”

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov contradicted the claim and said that the decision would be left “up to the residents of the Kherson region” to make a request. Peskov also said that the situation will be closely monitored by experts to ensure that there is a legal basis for the annexation.

It prompted British defense officials to warn that a rigged the election could be on the way.

Rigged Election

In an intelligence update from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence, plans for a rigged election in Kherson were revealed.

“The Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in Kherson announced they will ask Russia to include Kherson Region in the Russian Federation,” an update from Friday reads. “A central part of Russia’s original invasion plan was highly likely to use rigged referendums to place the majority of Ukraine’s regions under long-term pro-Russian authority.”

The intelligence update said that if Russia does carry out an election or referendum in Kherson, it will “almost certainly manipulate the results to show a clear majority in favour of leaving Ukraine.”

Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, dismissed talks of annexation entirely, however.

“The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter,” he said on Twitter. “The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play.”

With contradicting intelligence and statements from Russian officials, it is unclear how Russia will proceed in Kherson. Nonetheless, with military support to Ukraine continuing, the prospects of Kherson being annexed with minimal resistance, like with the annexation of Crimea in 2014, appear slim.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 11:19 am

    A demobilized French soldier, author of the book “Get up and go thanks to science” Adrien Boke went to Ukraine on a humanitarian mission and spent three weeks there.

    Upon his return, he decided to convey to the French information about the events he had witnessed in Ukraine.

    “I take full responsibility for what I say. While in Ukraine, I witnessed war crimes. All of them were committed by the Ukrainian army. But in France we don’t talk about it!

    When I returned to France from Ukraine, I was shocked: TV channels invite as experts people who have not been to Ukraine and do not know anything about what is happening there now. However, they dare to speculate about these events. Between what I hear from the TV screen and what I saw with my own eyes is an abyss.

    Azov fighters are everywhere. With neo-Nazi stripes. It shocks me that Europe is supplying weapons to neo-Nazis. Not only do they not hide their views. They advertise them. I worked with these people and treated them.

    Being there, there was nothing I could do. Just watch and make videos. I have this footage and will use it as evidence of Ukraine’s crimes.

    I witnessed how the Ukrainian military shot through the knees of captured Russian soldiers and shot in the head higher-ranking officers.

    I have personally seen American videographers making fake footage from the scene of the events staging.

    All destroyed civilian buildings, given out by Ukraine for bombardment of civilians, are nothing more than the result of inaccurate shooting by Ukrainians at military facilities.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine hide ammunition in residential buildings at night, without even informing the residents. This is called using people as a shield, ”Boke quotes one of the French media.

    The Washington Post recently drew attention to the fact that Ukrainian troops are placing military equipment in residential areas of cities in an attempt to counter the Russian Armed Forces, which threatens the lives of civilians.

    Boke also spoke about the untruthfulness of Western media reports about the events in Bucha.

    “Bucha is a staging. The bodies of the dead were moved from other places and deliberately placed in such a way as to produce shocking footage, ”the French author noted.

    The documents confirming this were submitted to the Federal Security Service – how, who – there are relevant intercepts – on what transport he came to this settlement and created the conditions for organizing this provocation.

    Soon all the collected evidence about the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine will be seen by the whole world. And the most important thing is the help of Western countries to the Nazis of Ukraine and assistance in their crimes.

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