Russia’s state-run Tass news service on Wednesday reported that the breakaway areas of Kherson in Ukraine and South Ossetia in Georgia will ask to be incorporated into Russia.
South Ossetia’s “President-elect” Alan Galoyev said his government is ready to hold a referendum on joining Russia as soon as Moscow gives it the green light.
“I would like to clarify that my position is as follows: it is not a unilateral process. Today, we can see that our strategic partner, the Russian Federation, is coping with geopolitical issues, conducting a special operation in Ukraine in order to eliminate neo-Nazi formations,” Galoyev said, mouthing Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s preferred euphemisms for his invasion of Ukraine.
“We need to understand our strategic partner. As soon as there is a sign and there is understanding that the time has come, we will definitely hold a referendum,” he said.
Gagloyev won Sunday’s election against incumbent South Ossetian “President” Anatoly Bibilov, who also promised to take steps to incorporate with the Russian Federation. The U.S. and European Union joined the government of Georgia in denouncing the election as illegitimate.
“Our position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains clear: these regions are integral parts of Georgia. No ‘elections’ or a priori illegitimate ‘referendum’ calling for incorporation of South Ossetia into Russia can change this. Accordingly, we reiterate our strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” the U.S. Embassy in Georgia explained in April.
South Ossetia has been occupied by Russian troops since 2008. Its independence is recognized mainly by Russian client states like Syria, Nicaragua, and Venezuela – and Venezuela had to be paid off with a $2.2 billion arms deal from Russia to secure its endorsement.
Ukraine has its own problems with invading Russian forces at the moment. The Kherson region, named after its most prominent city, was occupied a week into the invasion. The area is strategically vital to Russia because it connects the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, with separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in other areas coveted by Russia.
The duly elected mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhaiev, was ejected from his post for failing to “cooperate” with the invaders and replaced by a Russian puppet. Ukrainian television and Internet feeds were blocked and replaced with Russian propaganda. The captive population was even forced to stop using Ukrainian money, which has been banned from local banks in favor of Russian rubles.
Russian troops are preventing civilians from fleeing the Kherson region, but many have been able to evade the patrols and flee to safer areas. Kolykhaiev said the city of Kherson lost about 40 percent of its population after the Russians attacked.
Holding a “referendum” under such conditions would be even more of a grotesque farce than South Ossetia’s “elections,” but according to Tass on Wednesday, the Russian puppet government of Kherson is eager to follow the path of annexed Crimea and join the Russian Federation.
“The referendum, which was absolutely legally held in Crimea, was not recognized by the world community, which did everything not to recognize Russia as a full-blown member of the global community,” complained Russia’s man in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov.
“Therefore, this will be one single decree based on the appeal of the leadership of the Kherson region to Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will be a request to make the Kherson region a full-fledged constituent of the Russian Federation,” Stremousov declared.
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