By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Ukraine’s strategic Kherson region, which the Russian military captured, will soon reunify with Russia, the local pro-Moscow authorities say.
The deputy chief of Kherson region’s military-civilian administration, Kirill Stremousov, told Russian media that residents will “probably decide to follow in Crimea’s footsteps.”
He referred to Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, occupied and then annexed by Russia in 2014 after a controversial referendum. “Crimea, as we say, is the best way of returning to the home harbor. In all likelihood, the Kherson Region will follow in Crimea’s footsteps,” Stremousov added.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer recalled in published remarks that the Crimea referendum gave residents only two choices: join Russia or return to Crimea’s 1992 constitution, which gave the peninsula significant autonomy. “Those who favored Crimea remaining part of Ukraine under the current constitution had no box to check,” he added.
A similar situation is expected in the Kherson region due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to capture strategic areas after his military suffered heavy losses elsewhere.
Analysts that the Kherson region is essential for Russia as it offers control of the canal that delivers fresh water to the Crimea peninsula near the Black Sea.
“Russia is here forever,” Russian politician Andrey Turchak, a senior member of Putin’s United Russia party, reportedly said in May. “There should be no doubt about this. There will be no return to the past.”
Commentators say that Russia’s annexation of Kherson would represent a warning to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian leader offered to begin peace talks if Russian forces withdrew to the territory they held before the offensive launch in February.
It also signals Putin’s intentions to seize more territory in the south and east of the country, including the Donbas region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
Zelensky, who claims Russia occupies 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, says a “stalemate” is not an option in a war that has killed tens of thousands of people. He urged the West to send more advanced weapons.
While Britain and the United States have sent advanced rocket systems that can only reach up to 50 miles (some 80 kilometers), members of the NATO military alliance don’t want Ukraine to hit targets inside Russia, fearing this could provoke a Russian attack against the West.
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