Russia is apparently planning to bring the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, as well as Kherson and Zaporizhia under Russian leadership as quickly as possible. This is the result of statements by Russian informants that are available to the opposition Internet newspaper “Meduza”.
Apparently, the status of a federal district, the largest administrative unit in Russia – such as Central Russia, Siberia or the Far East, is planned. Currently there are eight such districts, the heads of which are not elected, President Vladimir Putin personally appoints them as his plenipotentiaries.
According to Meduza, high-ranking Kremlin official Boris Rapoport has already been entrusted with overseeing the new district. A staff is being set up for the individual administrations by the Moscow presidential administration, to which Rapoport also belongs.
The four regions in Ukraine were already occupied by Russian troops at the beginning of the war. The Kremlin had previously recognized the separatist areas of Luhansk and Donetsk. The “liberation” of the local population was used as a pretext for the invasion. Since then, the Kremlin has repeatedly redefined the war aims.
At the beginning, a fall of the democratically elected leadership in Kyiv was obviously planned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently described the complete capture of the Donbass as an “unconditional priority”.
So-called “political officials” from Russia are already deployed in the areas occupied since February to monitor public life. Officially, according to the informants of “Meduza”, they were installed as deputy mayors.
The head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, Dennis Puschilin, dismissed the entire “government” this week and filled the top positions in the cabinet with officials appointed by Moscow.
The occupiers have already issued certain regulations that point to an annexation. In Zaporizhia, for example, you can only pay with the Russian ruble, and newborn children receive Russian birth certificates.
Before the formal annexation, a referendum is to be held in the Donbass, as was constructed in 2014 on the annexed Crimean peninsula. According to reports from “Meduza”, the Kremlin is planning such a vote as early as mid-July or at the same time as the Russian regional elections on September 11, depending on the war situation.
The main contender for the post of Plenipotentiary of the Russian President in “Southern Russia”, according to “Meduza” informants, is Boris Rapoport. However, the statements were not confirmed by the Kremlin.
In Moscow, Rapoport is considered a crisis manager who has already been deployed in critical situations in some regions. He is currently responsible for regional policy in the Presidential Administration. He has been dealing with Donbass since 2014.
According to Meduza sources, Rapoport is currently compiling lists of people from Russia who should take up posts at all levels of government. A start has already been made. For example, the Donetsk cabinet now has Alexander Kostomarov, who is said to know “how to break people and achieve what the bosses want.”
According to this, the leadership positions of the so-called People’s Republics are to be exchanged soon in order to “steer the Russian funds in the right direction”.
Meanwhile, fear is growing among the population in Zaporizhia and Cherson that Ukrainian men from the occupied territories will then have to go to war for Russia. Russian soldiers are already preventing men of fighting age from escaping the occupied areas.
The Ukrainian military is currently reporting military successes, at least in Zaporizhia. In the separatist region of Luhansk, on the other hand, the governor speaks of constant shelling.