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Kyiv Promises Russian Troops “Will Be Simply Exterminated” After Putin Annexes Ukrainian Territory

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KYIV — Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, announced by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, will not affect Kyiv’s resolve to liberate them by military force, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“For our plans, [Russia’s annexation] it doesn’t matter,” Mykhailo Podolyak told POLITICO, speaking ahead of the Putin-orchestrated signing ceremony in Moscow. The Russian leader criticized the United States and the West, denounced the Ukrainian government and warned: “We will protect our land using all our forces.”

The annexation comes on a day when Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly surrounded thousands of Russian troops near the eastern Ukrainian town of Lyman, and a couple of weeks after a successful counteroffensive which expelled Russian forces from the region near Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.

The nation “must liberate all its territories,” Podolyak said.

Ukrainian troops have “probably almost completed” the encirclement of Russian troops in Lyman in the Donetsk region, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.

“Almost all approaches, logistical routes of the enemy, through which he delivered ammunition and manpower, are already under our fire control,” said Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for the eastern Ukrainian military grouping. saying Ukrainian television.

Moscow has not commented on the situation.

Podolyak also shrugged off Putin’s announcement of a “partial” mobilization of reservists last week, with thousands called up and thousands more fleeing the country.

“The mobilization shows that Russia has been left without a professional army,” Podolyak said, adding: “This army is being replaced by absolutely untrained people. A living resource has been thrown at the front, and it will simply be exterminated.”

“This may sound paradoxical, but it actually benefits us that Russia has announced this mobilization,” he said. “This shows the people of Russia that the country really is at war, that it is not doing very well in this war, and that the Russians themselves will be the ones to pay the price.”

The mobilization is prompting Kyiv to ask its Western allies for more weapons.

“For example, 100 more 155mm-caliber missiles would solve the problem, if you’ll excuse me for putting it that way, that Russia uses additional human resources on the battlefield,” Podolyak said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four Ukrainian territories after holding fake referendums | Kay Nietfeld/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, US authorities Announced a $1.1 billion weapons package for Ukraine, including an additional 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

“Russia now has one card left to play in this war: nuclear weapons. Against a non-nuclear nation. That is absurd,” Podolyak said.

The concern is how Putin will react to Ukraine’s efforts to liberate Russian-seized territories, and whether the Kremlin will see it as an attack on Russia itself. However, Ukrainian attacks on Crimea and even attacks on Russia proper over the course of the seven-month war have resulted in no such retaliation.

Last week, Putin warned: “We will certainly use all the weapons resources at our disposal… This is not a hoax.”

US President Biden has warned Putin of the consequences of using nuclear or chemical weapons. Podolyak wants those warnings to be “clearly communicated” to Moscow and for “very harsh retaliatory measures aimed at the destruction of Russia’s defense infrastructure” to follow.

“For example, Russia’s naval forces in the Black Sea could be completely destroyed,” he said. “This would be a proportionate response to Russia’s attempt to launch a tactical nuclear attack on the Ukrainian army’s fighting positions.”

In the meantime, Ukraine will “continue to do its job” to liberate its territory, he said.

“We have no other options when it comes to ending the war properly. We can’t leave an enclave [under Russian occupation] or create a new dividing line,” he said, referring to the frozen conflict that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the 2014-2015 Donbas war.

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