Putin may announce annexation of occupied regions this week – UK defence ministry

There is a “realistic possibility” Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce the annexation of occupied regions of Ukraine when he addresses Russia’s parliament on Friday, according to the UK’s defence ministry.

Discredited referendums have been taking place in occupied areas of the country over several days and are scheduled to end today.

Ukraine and the West say the result has already been decided by the Kremlin and will be used as an excuse for an illegal land grab.

“Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict,” the defence ministry said.

But it adds that this hope will “likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield sets-backs and significant unease about the partial mobilisation announced last week.”

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