Russia is all set to annex four Ukrainian territories today after 'referendums' in those territories.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a ceremony to mark the incorporation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia into Russia would take place at 3pm Moscow time.
Treaties will be signed alongside the Moscow-appointed administrators of the Ukrainian regions at the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall, he added.
Vladimir Putin will most likely address the Russian people in a speech.
The four territories are Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. The four regions constitute for around 15 per cent of Ukraine's territory.
The authenticity of the results are, needless to say, highly questionable.
Russia apparently won 99.23 per cent of the votes in Donetsk. In Luhansk 98.42 per cent. The contest was more 'tough' in the remaining two regions.
In Kherson, Russia won 87.05 per cent. In Zaporizhia 93.11 per cent.
The 'referendums' were conducted over a span of fiive days and ended on 27 September. It is as if Russia isn't even making an effort to make the results seem plausibly true and convincing.
According to reports, Vladimir Putin will make a major speech to the Russian parliament within the next few days, as his seventieth birthday approaches.
Putin can now claim that he is in fact fighting a defensive war. The western nations are invading Russian territory, as the annexations of these four territories mean, at least in Russian law, that these territories are as Russian as red square in Moscow.
Individual agreements will be signed with the two Russian-backed separatist leaders from the east and the two Russian-appointed officials from the south.
Similar to Crimea's annexation, Russia's two houses of parliament will ratify the annexation treaties, most probably by next week.
It must be flagged that on the ground, Russia doesn't control these four provinces completely, from a military standpoint.
In Donetsk for example, the Russian military only control 60 per cent of the province.
"You have to answer verbally and the soldier marks the answer on the sheet and keeps it," one woman told reporters.
Russia's annexation of these four provinces will mark the largest territorial takeover in Europe since the second World War.
"The territorial integrity of Ukraine will be restored. And our reaction to recognition of the results by Russia will be very harsh," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
He added that no one takes these pseudo-referendums seriously.
Russia's military doctrine says that when its territories are attacked, it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons for 'defensive' purposes.
After the formal annexation of these four provinces, from a technical point of view, according to Russian doctrine, Russia can use nuclear weapons as any attack on these four provinces will now be viewed by Moscow as attacks on Russia.
However, the likelihood of Moscow making such a strategically short sighted decision is rather low.
US President Joe Biden has stated that they will never recognise Russian claims in Ukraine. "The United States, I want to be very clear about this, will never, never, never recognise Russia's claims on Ukraine sovereign territory," he said.
War is ongoing in all of these four provinces. There is an active front line in all of these four regions.
Some reports indicate that Ukrainian forces are planning to encircle Russian troops in the strategically significant town of Lyman which is located in the Donetsk province.
Reports from the ground suggest that on the right bank of the Oskil River, the Ukrainian command continues the offensive aimed at reaching Svatove and encircling Lyman.
Lyman is a crucial supply hub. If Ukraine is able to win a battle against Russian forces in Lyman, it would be a significant setback for Russia.
A key railway juncture, Lyman could be used as a gateway for Ukrainian forces' counteroffensive to continue advancing further east without losing momentum before winter.
“The collapse of the Lyman pocket will likely be highly consequential to the Russian grouping in northern Donetsk and western Luhansk,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its daily update.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s failure to address these losses “will likely further reduce already-low Russian morale,” the update added.
For Russia is to ensure its annexation is sustainable, it has to ensure that Lyman isn't encircled and lost to the Ukrainian forces.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.