Russia is preparing to annex Ukrainian lands by arranging “sham” referendums on the territories it currently controls, like it did with Crimea eight years ago, the White House has said.
“We have information today, including from downgraded intelligence that we’re able to share with you, about how Russia is laying the groundwork to annex Ukrainian territory that it controls in direct violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” John Kirby, US intelligence, National Security Council spokesman, told journalists on Tuesday.
Russia launched a military campaign against Ukraine in late February. The US and their allies under NATO responded by imposing sweeping sanctions on Moscow and provided Kiev with heavy weapons.
While fighting alongside the forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s southern Kherson Region and the majority of Zaporozhye Region. They also took areas of Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, which borders the LPR.