Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas Wednesday through one of the hubs that feed Western European homes and industry, while a Kremlin-installed official in a southern region seized by Russian troops said the area would ask Moscow to annex it.
The talk of annexation in Kherson — and Russia’s apparent willingness to consider such a request — raised the possibility that the Kremlin will seek to break off another piece of Ukraine as it tries to salvage an invasion gone awry. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it would be “up to the residents of the Kherson region” to make such a request, and that any move to annex territory would have to be closely evaluated by experts to make sure its legal basis is “absolutely clear.”
Russia has repeatedly used annexation or recognition of breakaway republics as tactics in recent years to gain pieces of fellow former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after holding a referendum on the peninsula over whether it wanted to become part of Russia.