The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 43,750 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 233 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 195 attack and transport helicopters, 1,876 tanks, 985 artillery pieces, 4,141 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 261 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,044 vehicles and fuel tanks, 136 anti-aircraft batteries, 787 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 92 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 187 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Sham Referenda On the Horizon
It is no secret that the primary objective of the Kremlin in Ukraine is to capture and annex Ukrainian territory into Russia. The Donbas, that is, the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, are the two first candidates for such illegal annexations.
To begin with, large chunks of the two Ukrainian provinces are occupied and administrated by pro-Russian separatist forces. So, there already is a structure that would support an annexation by Russia. But the pro-Russian separatists are not enough on their own, and in other parts of Ukraine, such as Kherson, there isn’t nearly enough base of support for Russia as there is in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
So, to make up for those shortcomings, the Kremlin has been preparing sham referenda for some time now. The goal would be to create the necessary illusion that the Ukrainian people in those parts of the country want to be annexed by Russia.
“On 11 August 2022, Russian media reported that Denis Pushilin, head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), had said that the date of a referendum on the DPR joining Russia will be announced after the DPR’s ‘complete liberation,’” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
“Previously, in June 2022, investigative journalists published evidence of a DPR planning strategy for running such a referendum and for ensuring that at least 70 per cent of votes were in favour of joining Russia,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
“It is likely that Russia is in the advanced planning stages to hold a referendum, though it is unclear if the final decision to go ahead with a vote has yet been taken,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
“The Kremlin will likely see the military’s failure to occupy the entirety of Donetsk Oblast thus far as a setback for its maximalist objectives in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.