Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled Friday to address both houses of parliament, where analysts say there is a “realistic possibility” he will announce the formal accession of occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Tuesday is the final day for voting in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainians in the occupied territories are being told to participate in referendums that the government in Kyiv and its Western allies have dismissed as a sham.
“Russia’s leaders certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict,” British military intelligence officials tweeted Tuesday morning.
The disputed regions make up about 15% of Ukraine’s territory. If they are absorbed by Russia, the Kremlin could portray any attempt by Kyiv to regain control as an attack on its own sovereignty, analysts say.
“This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield setbacks and significant unease about the partial mobilization announced last week,” British officials said.