A senior US diplomat said Monday that Russia was planning to annex two Ukrainian regions, adding that Moscow may also carry out other disruptive operations in the southeast of Ukraine.
“According to the most recent reports, we believe that Russia will try to annex the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ to Russia,” US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Carpenter also revealed Washington’s belief that Russia was planning to abduct local officials in the southeast of Ukraine and force locals to use the Russian ruble.
Carpenter also said Russia was planning to issue a “sham referenda” sometime in mid-May. “The international community, including the OSCE, where I work as ambassador, has been very clear that such sham referenda… will not be considered legitimate nor will any attempts to annex additional Ukrainian territory.”
The US diplomat also said the US had “highly credible” reason to believe that Russia was also looking at annexing Ukraine’s Kherson.