The Kremlin intends to hold elections this year in occupied Ukraine that will coincide with regional elections across Russia in what Western intelligence analysts say is an attempt to solidify its annexation following the invasion almost a year ago.
Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko said the voting would take place in the newly annexed areas of Ukraine on Sept. 10.
British officials said the decision highlights the Kremlin’s ambition to present areas of occupied Ukraine as “integral parts of the [Russian] Federation.”
The move follows efforts by Moscow to “Russify” the occupied areas, which has included revisions of Ukraine’s education, communication and transportation systems, British military intelligence officials said Monday.
“While meaningful democratic choices are no longer available to voters at even regional level elections in Russia, leaders will likely make the self-vindicating argument that new elections further justify the occupation,” British officials tweeted.