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Putin introduces martial law in illegally annexed Ukrainian regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at a residence outside Moscow, Russia, October 19, 2022.
Sergey Ilyin | Sputnik | Reuters

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday introduced martial law in the four regions of Ukraine that Russia illegally annexed last month.

Martial law will be introduced in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — the four regions in Ukraine that Moscow claimed as Russian territory following sham referendums in September that Ukraine and its allies have condemned as illegal and illegitimate.

The decision, announced as Putin addressed a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Wednesday, will likely mean that the regions’ civil administrations will be replaced by military ones.

Putin said all those regions should ensure that steps are taken to safeguard “critically important facilities” and said he had made the decision due to Kyiv’s refusal to recognize the annexation of the four regions.

“Constitutional laws on the admission of four new regions into the Russian Federation have come into force. The Kyiv regime, as you know, refused to recognize the will and choice of people, rejects any proposals for negotiations. On the contrary, shelling continues. Civilians are dying,” Putin said, according to comments reported by the Russian state news agency Tass.

Putin said he had signed a decree on the introduction of martial law in these four regions and this will now be sent for approval by the Federation Council, or Senate.

Martial law is often introduced as a temporary measure when civil authorities are deemed to be in crisis and struggling to function. The breadth and scope of what is effectively a military takeover is yet to be detailed but martial law generally sees civil rights subsumed to military rule, though how far that changes the current situation for civilians in annexed regions in Ukraine remains to be seen.

His comments come at a pivotal moment in the conflict in Ukraine. Over the last couple of months, Ukraine’s forces have made gains in the northeast and south of the country.

An attack on Russia’s prized Kerch Strait Bridge linking the Russian mainland with annexed Crimea earlier this month also dealt a blow to Moscow, but it has since responded with a barrage of missile and drone attacks on various Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure.

Recalling the blowing up of the Crimean bridge, Putin claimed Wednesday that the Russian special services “suppressed terrorist attacks in other regions of Russia … against transport and energy facilities” and called on the four annexed regions to take measures now to safeguard “critically important facilities.”

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