The Russian annexation project for southern Ukraine is taking shape

The eventual annexation to Russia is very simple: you invade a territory and install authorities there that, after a few weeks, demand its annexation to Moscow, and that’s it. Such is the fate that threatens the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, the only major city occupied by the Russian army since the invasion began on February 25.

Indeed, Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Kherson Military and Civil Administration, on Wednesday indicated to Russian news agencies that a request would be made to the Kremlin “to integrate the Kherson region as a subject in itself the Russian Federation.”

Russia “Forever” in Kherson

Moscow’s desire to annex this area appears to be in doubt since the leader of the ruling United Russia party faction declared on May 6 that Russia would remain there “forever”. Moreover, it fits with Vladimir Putin’s doctrine privately revealed last summer according to which “Russians and Ukrainians are in fact only one people occupying the same historical and spiritual space” and “the Ukrainian state is a historical mistake.”

However, the Kremlin responded cautiously to the announcements regarding its rule in Kherson, considering that it was up to the region’s population, estimated at one million people, 20% of whom had fled, to decide on the advisability of the annex. However, Kirill Strimosov considered holding a referendum unnecessary, on the grounds that the last referendum, which was organized to request the annexation of Crimea in 2014, was not recognized by the international community.

Moscow intends to introduce the ruble very soon as the only legal currency in Kherson and Russian TV channels has already replaced Ukrainian currencies. The annexation of Kherson would not change much on the ground, but it would allow Moscow to claim that any subsequent reoccupation by the Ukrainian army would be an attack on its sovereignty…

The first cut in gas transmission

Ukraine also invoked force majeure to cut off, on Wednesday, the flow of Russian gas to Europe, which uses one of the gas pipelines that cross its territory. It spoke of security risks due to its inability to control the Sukhranivka transit center occupied by the Russian army in the Luhansk region.

But it claimed to be able to redirect these flows to a center under its control. Which would be technically impossible, according to Gazprom, which denies any breach of the safety of pumping at Sukhranivka. Kyiv’s decision does not appear to have any negative long-term consequences given the minimal impact on European gas prices, which were down 4% on Wednesday afternoon.

The flow of Russian gas to Europe fell by a quarter compared to Tuesday, to 72 million cubic meters. About 8% of the Russian gas supplied to the Union passes through Sukhranivka. Analyst Rystad Energy estimates that Gazprom “must use other pipelines to supply Europe, including the Sudzha pipeline, with a total capacity of 77 million cubic meters per day.”

Ukraine will be 100 years old

Kyiv at the same time announced that it had recaptured four cities near Kharkiv, the second in the country north of Donbass, six days after launching its massive counteroffensive. This could portend a change in the balance of power in the east of the country, especially since the first batch of 155-mm self-propelled guns presented by the United States, with a range of 40 kilometers, was just deployed there.

The Ukrainian military claims to have pushed Russian forces almost back to the border. The continuation of the Ukrainian counterattack could threaten the supply lines of the Russian army and threaten the attack of the latter in the Izyum region, relieving pressure on the Donbass.

If the outcome of the war remains uncertain, the economic, social and even psychological consequences for Ukraine will be staggering. The only civilian infrastructure actually destroyed accounts for the equivalent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to an assessment by KSE University, and the war has destroyed a third of Ukraine’s jobs, according to a report from the International Labor Organization revealed on Wednesday. Even German Chancellor Olaf Schulz estimated on Wednesday that Ukraine should “prepare to fight for 100 years against the consequences of this war” …

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