- Russian-appointed occupation officials in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts announced on September 20 that they will hold a “referendum” on acceding to Russia, with a vote taking place from September 23-27. The Kremlin will use the alleged results of these sham referenda to illegally annex all Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine and is likely to declare unoccupied parts of Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts to be Russian territory as well
Washington DC, Sept.21 (ISW).– The Kremlin’s annexation plans are primarily targeting a domestic audience; Putin likely hopes to improve Russian force generation capabilities by calling on the Russian people to volunteer for a war to “defend” newly claimed Russian territory.
Putin’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory will broaden the domestic legal definition of “Russian” territory under Russian law, enabling the Russian militaryto legally and openly deploy conscripts already in the Russian military to fight in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Eastern Ukraine: (Vovchansk-Kupyansk-Izyum-Lyman Line)
Ukrainian forces likely continued offensive operations along the Lyman-Yampil-Bilohorivka line on September 20. An unnamed senior US defense official stated that Ukrainian and Russian forces are engaged in artillery duels near Lyman. Several Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops are attacking Lyman from the northwest (around the Sviatohirsk-Yarova area) and south (along the Shchurove-Dibrova line). A Russian mil blogger stated that Ukrainian troops attempted to attack Drobysheve, about 5km northwest of Lyman. Geolocated combat footage confirms Russian and Ukrainian claims that Ukrainian troops have taken control of Bilohorivka, Luhansk Oblast (about 30km southeast of Lyman). Russian sources also continue to indicate that Ukrainian troops are likely conducting offensive operations across the Oskil River with the intention of penetrating Russian rear areas in occupied Luhansk Oblast.
Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)
Ukrainian forces continued efforts to interdict Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Kherson Oblast on September 19 and 20 as Russian troops continue attempts to reconstitute their GLOCs. Ukrainian officials reported multiple Ukrainian air and artillery strikes against Russian manpower and equipment concentration in the Berislav, Henichesk, Kakhovsk, and Kherson districts among other areas, as well as on bridges and pontoon and barge crossings. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian artillery strikes disrupted Russian attempts to establish alternative crossing sites across the Dnipro River around Nova Kakhovka and Kozatske (both 60km east of Kherson City) and that one of the strikes hit a Russian barge loaded with weapons, equipment, and personnel. Social media imagery analysis confirms that the Russians have been trying to establish an alternative crossing point near the Kakhovka Dam from at least September 2 through September 18.
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