February 28, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Putin declares martial law in annexed Ukraine as civilians begin evacuation

Putin declares martial law in annexed Ukraine as civilians begin evacuation
attributed to him…Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law on Wednesday in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed but does not fully control, a move that would allow pro-Russian authorities to impose stricter restrictions as Moscow struggles. Military progress of Ukraine.

Separately, Putin said he was giving more power to regional rulers within Russia, implementing wartime measures that would allow for significantly more restrictions, apparently aimed at controlling the opposition at home.

A presidential decree has declared martial law in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions – whose annexation by Russia last month was internationally condemned as illegal. Russia suffered weeks of setbacks on the battlefield, and its proxies in the southern Kherson region began resettling civilians in A clear expectation of a big fight for the regional capital.

Moscow was ordering the residents of the area living west of the Dnipro River to evacuate before a possible Ukrainian counterattack, a move by Kyiv. to reject As terrifying. Just before Mr. Putin’s speech, videos circulated to Russian media showed queues of civilians apparently boarding ferries at a river port for evacuation.

“I have signed a decree on the application of martial law in these four constituent entities of the Russian Federation,” Mr. Putin said at the beginning of a Security Council meeting via video link, referring to the four Ukrainian regions unilaterally declared by the Kremlin. to be part of Russia. In addition, in the current situation, I consider it necessary to give additional powers to the commanders of all Russian regions.

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Within hours of the decree being issued, the Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament, approved it unanimously.

As of late last month, the Russian army controlled most of Luhansk and Kherson regions and about half of Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk regions. Martial law in the four annexed territories will allow authorities to impose curfews, confiscate property, imprison illegal immigrants, create checkpoints, detain people for up to 30 days, and forcibly resettle residents in another area.

The president also ordered the creation of the Regional Defense Forces, a type of civilian militia, in the four annexed regions, raising the possibility that Moscow’s forces would try to recruit Ukrainians to fight their country’s forces, as part of a broader effort to mobilize hundreds of these. Thousands of new fighters and its forces suffered heavy losses.

Putin grappled with growing anger at home over his recall of some 300,000 reservists to fight in the war. protests has erupted In remote cities, recruitment centers were the target of arson and thousands of men were of draft age Planes and packed vehicles to flee across the borders of Russia.

Some analysts said the Russian leader is forced to tell his nation that there may be more pain ahead.

“Putin has to prepare the country for much more difficult times, and he needs to mobilize resources,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst, said in a phone interview.

Analysts said it was remarkable that Mr Putin declared martial law, as he continues to avoid calling the invasion of Ukraine a “war” and instead uses the term “special military operation”.

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“When you call it a war, it means that your own military operation failed,” Ms. Stanovaya said.

Abbas Galiamov, a former Kremlin speechwriter-turned-political adviser, said the decision to declare martial law in occupied Ukraine and impose other restrictions within Russia appeared to focus more on suppressing domestic dissent than on improving the failed war effort.

“In general, all this looks less like a struggle with an external enemy, so much as an attempt to prevent a mature revolution inside the country,” Mr. Galiamov wrote on Telegram.

A separate decree allows for significantly more restrictive measures to be introduced in 26 regions across Russia, closest to Ukraine, including Moscow, in order to tighten control over critical infrastructure facilities, public transport and communications. According to Mr. Putin, the region’s leaders will be given additional powers to “ensure security”.

As with many Russian laws, there are open provisions that allow for broad interpretation and regional rulers can choose what they will impose. For example, the law allows the suspension of the activities of political parties, public organizations and religious groups, or any activity considered to undermine the defense and security of the Russian Federation. It also allows governors to place restrictions on entry and exit from their area.

Contribute to reporting Oleg MatsnevAnd the Valeria SafronovaAnd the Ivan Nikiburnko And the Neil MacFarquhar.