A Russian-backed local official in the southern Ukrainian Kherson region said Wednesday he plans to formally seek for the Russian government to annex the region and the Kremlin hinted it may welcome such annexation.

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Russian state-run news agencies quoted Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of Kherson’s Russian-installed administration, saying he plans to appeal directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex Kherson and turn it into a “proper region of the Russian Federation.” according to to the Associated Press’ translation of his comments.

Many have expected annexation to mark the next stage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mike Carpenter, said last week US intelligence suggests Russia may use “sham referenda” to annex the Kherson region and other areas in southern and eastern Ukraine as soon as this month.

Stremousov said he will ask not for a referendum but for an official decree declaring Kherson a part of Russia.

Kremlin and Dmitry Peskov addressed the issue of annexing Kherson Wednesday, telling reporters it would require a similar process to the Crimean peninsula Russia forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014, according to to the state-run TASS news agency, though he declined to confirm if Russia is open to accepting the plea from Kherson’s administration.


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