The head of the region’s military and civil administration said on Tuesday that the Russian Federation would quickly annex the Kherson region now that the vote on the referendum to join Russia – which the West described as fake – is over.
Voting began last week and ends on Tuesday in Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Russia is expected to claim victory in all four.
“The faster the institution of power begins to function, the easier it is for people to live,” said Vladimir Saldo, who leads the governing body in Kherson. “There will be a transition period of course until we inform our officials … the laws of the Russian Federation,” he said.
“There will be this period, but I expect it will not last long,” he said.
Saldo said residents of the region who obtain Russian passports will not be subject to conscription due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial “partial” military mobilization. The Kremlin’s plan to call in an additional 300,000 troops sparked protests in Russia and prompted long lines at the Russia-Georgia border as people tried to flee.
– More than 60 police officers have raided a luxury yacht in northern Germany linked to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Prosecutors said they are investigating possible violations of sanctions and money laundering rules.
The discovery of unusual leaks on two natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany has led some European leaders and experts to point to potential sabotage during the energy standoff with Russia sparked by the war in Ukraine.
A mission of French specialists arrived in Ukraine to help document Russian war crimes near Izyum.
Nearly 100,000 Russians have fled to neighboring Kazakhstan since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of 300,000 civilians last week, as combat-age men try to avoid being sent to war in Ukraine.
Kazakh Interior Minister Marat Akhmedzhanov said that about 98,000 Russians who arrived last week will not be repatriated unless they are on the list of fugitives wanted on criminal charges.
“We must take care of them and ensure their safety,” said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. It is a political and humanitarian issue.”
Kazakhstan, which has a large northern border bordering Russia, and Georgia, the former Soviet republic, seem to be the two most popular destinations for those crossing by car, bike or on foot from Russia. Airplane tickets abroad sold out quickly despite the exorbitant prices.
Some European countries have closed their doors to Russians seeking asylum to escape conscription. Others expressed their willingness to receive them.
Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, told his followers that death while performing military service “removes all sins.” Kirill called for support for mobilization in Russia, saying that it would help in “reconciliation” between Ukraine and Russia. Kirill is a supporter of Putin who stood behind the war.
In May, Pope Francis urged Kirill not to justify the invasion. “The patriarch cannot turn himself into Putin’s altar boy,” Francis said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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