Russia is forming plans to annex more parts of Ukraine, the White House has said, claiming the Russian federation is planning to repeat a playbook it used in the 2014 annexation of Crimea to seize territory,
The steps Russia is planning could include “sham” referenda, installing illegitimate proxy officials, establishing the Russian Ruble as the official currency and forcing Ukrainian citizens to apply for Russian citizenship, said John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the US National Security Council.
The US and its Western allies have sought to turn around momentum in Ukraine as Russia makes gains in the Eastern and Southern part of the country. Biden has approved billions in arms shipments and other security assistance and applied several rounds of sanctions on Moscow.
Kirby has warned the US would punish Russia with additional sanctions for attempts to further annex Ukrainian territory, and said the White House would unveil additional security assistance to Ukraine later this week..
Kirby cited US intelligence that had been downgraded and approved for public release to make the claims about Russia’s plans.
“Russia is beginning to roll out a version of what you could call an annexation playbook, very similar to the one we saw in 2014,” Kirby told reporters at the White House. He said the potential referenda could take place soon.
“The Kremlin has not disclosed the timeline for the referenda, but Russian proxies in these territories claim they will take place later this year, possibly in conjunction with Russia’s September regional elections,” Kirby said, listing the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, along with the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, as likely targets of Russia’s annexation plans.