The Russian military has been humiliating to watch, at least for Vladimir Putin. The rest of the world actually seems to be getting a sadistic little kick out of watching the Kremlin’s troops fall flat on their faces in Ukraine.
But, as with far too many aspects of the Russian war machine, their continued failures have made them desperate, and those who haven’t dropped their rifles and fled for the border are ramping up their genocidal efforts, actively looking to eradicate Ukrainians just because.
Now, as Russia is set to execute some sham “annexations”, Ukraine’s leadership is effectively shrugging it off.
Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans Tuesday to start voting this week to become integral parts of Russia. The concerted and quickening Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.
The scheduling of referendums starting Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions came after a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said the votes are needed and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion it began nearly seven months ago, increasing pressure on the Kremlin for a stiff response.
Ukraine was having none of it.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba denounced them as a sham and tweeted that “Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.”
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan slammed the planned votes.
“We will never recognize this territory as anything other than part of Ukraine,” he said, adding that they reflect Russia’s setbacks on the battlefield.
And then, with one final parting shot:
“These are not the actions of a confident country. These are not acts of strength,” he said.
Russia similarly “annexed” Crimea back in 2014, and Ukraine’s recent military successes have some suggesting that they’ll push to retake the region as Russians continue to retreat.