We Will Join Russia, Says Pro-Moscow Official in Kherson

Request to include southern Ukrainian region in Russian Federation to be made by year's end
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2022 10:50 AM CDT
We Will Join Russia, Says Pro-Moscow Official in Kherson
People shout toward Russian army soldiers during a rally against the Russian occupation in Svobody (Freedom) Square in Kherson, Ukraine, on March 7.   (AP Photo/Olexandr Chornyi)

A Pro-Russia administration official in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine says the region will request annexation by Russia by the year's end. "The city of Kherson is Russia," Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of Kherson's Russia-installed administration, told reporters on Wednesday, per the AP. Ukrainian officials fear Russia will stage a referendum allowing the region just north of Crimea to declare independence, as in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, or join Russia.

Late last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said an attempt by Russia to use "pseudo-referendums" to justify an annexation of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, west of Donetsk, would show negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow were "all fiction and political theater," per Reuters. But "there will be no referendums," Stremousov said, per the AP. "It will be a decree based on an appeal from the Kherson regional leadership to the Russian president, and there will be a request to include the region into a proper region of the Russian Federation."

Russian forces control the city of Kherson and claim control of the entire administrative region, which links the Crimean Peninsula—annexed by Russia in 2014 through a referendum widely seen as illegitimate—to Russian-backed separatist areas in the east. However, Ukrainian forces control "a small part of that region," reports France 24. There have been reports of Russian forces firing on protesters in the area, with hundreds of demonstrators said to have been arrested. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Kherson's residents must decide for themselves whether to join Russia, but if they decide in the affirmative, there needs to be a legal basis "as was the case with Crimea," per Reuters. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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