Kremlin plans to annex occupied Ukrainian regions

Kremlin plans to annex occupied Ukrainian regions

With Russia controlling over 20 percent of Ukraine, reports have emerged that Kremlin plans to annex occupied Ukrainian territories and merge them into a new federal district in Russia.

The Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia would be combined into a single federal district within Russia, according to Meduza, a Russian news media in Latvia, citing sources close to the Vladimir Putin administration.

The district will appear after referendums on joining Russia are held in these territories. The Ukrainian territories won't accede to existing districts in Russia, the source said.

The report stated that Boris Rapoport, a Kremlin official, will be given the task of supervising the creation of the new federal district. Rapoport is the deputy head of the presidential directorate for State Council affairs and was involved in the Donbas policymaking of the Kremlin in 2014.

The crisis manager, known as the Kremlin-back candidates, including the St. Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov, is known for his work on the electoral campaigns of Kremlin-back candidates.

The Meduza report said that Rapoport is recruiting personnel to run regional and municipal administrations in the Donbas and the civil-military administrations in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. They will handle the preparations for staging a referendum on joining Russia.

Two possible dates for referendums are being discussed now, the first being mid-July, if the situation at the front allows it. The second option is Sept. 11 - the same day Russia is set to hold regional and gubernatorial elections.

Russia is looking for people to work as political officers in annexed Ukraine. The presidential directorate for State Council affairs has been tasked with the same.

The sources said that they were looking for people who have experience working with the opposition, who can operate a bit unconventionally because the tasks in the Donbas are not trivial.

Boris Rapoport is already in the Donbas and is visiting the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions periodically. Rapoport is the main candidate for the position of presidential envoy to the new federal district. The source said that the former prime minister and Putin's 'point man in the Donbass, Sergei Kiriyenko, wants to control the processes and put his confidant there.

Russian officials haven't yet said anything about their plans for the annexed regions.