| 2 December 2022, Friday |

Moscow pledges ‘full protection’ to any areas annexed by Russia

Russia has tried to defend its seven-month-old conflict at the United Nations, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declaring that regions of Ukraine where heavily criticized referendums are taking place would be under Russia’s “complete protection” if seized by Moscow.

On Sunday, the referendums in four eastern Ukrainian districts aimed at annexing land gained by force by Russia since its invasion in February began their third day, and the Russian parliament might vote to formalize the annexation within days.

Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the referendums as a sham designed to justify an escalation of the war and a mobilization drive by Moscow after recent battlefield losses.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first military mobilization since World War Two, a move that triggered protests across the country and sent flocks of military-age men fleeing, causing tailbacks at borders and sold-out flights from the country.

Russia’s two most senior MPs addressed a slew of complaints over the mobilization on Sunday, instructing regional officials to get a handle on the issue and quickly resolve the “excesses” that have infuriated the people.

On Saturday, Lavrov addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the world’s media in New York, attempting to explain Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, reiterating Moscow’s baseless accusations that the elected government in Kyiv was illegitimately established and tainted by neo-Nazis.

He cast opposition to what Russia calls a “special operation” as limited to the United States and countries under its sway. Nearly three-quarters of states in the assembly voted to reprimand Russia and demand it withdraw its troops.

In a press conference following his address, Lavrov stated that if Russia annexes the territories where elections are taking place, they will have “complete security” from Moscow.

When asked if Russia would have reasons to use nuclear weapons to defend annexed territories, Lavrov stated that Russian territory, including territory “further enshrined” in Russia’s constitution in the future, “is under complete state protection.”

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Russia’s threats to deploy nuclear weapons were “totally intolerable,” and Kyiv would not cave.

  • Reuters