More pro-Putin officials installed in occupied Ukraine are to be targeted in a backlash against puppet civic administrations, British defence chiefs said on Wednesday.
They stressed that one mayor in a Russian-appointed administration had been killed in a car bomb.
But Vladimir Putin’s regime is seeking to gain more civic control over occupied areas of Ukraine including by twinning cities with Russian ones.
Moves have also been launched to make it simpler for Ukrainians to become Russian citizens.
In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “Anti-Russian sentiment in occupied Ukraine is leading to Russian and pro-Russian officials being targeted.
“The Russian-appointed administration in Velykyy Burluk acknowledged that one of its mayors was killed on 11 July 2022 by a car bombing.”
The briefing added: “The targeting of officials is likely to escalate, exacerbating the already significant challenges facing the Russian occupiers and potentially increasing the pressure on already reduced military and security formations.”
However, it also stressed: “Russia continues to seek to undermine the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state and consolidate its own governance and administrative control over occupied parts of Ukraine.
“Recently this has included an initiative to twin Russian and Ukrainian cities and regions to develop post-conflict administrations and a decree to make it easier for Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship.”
As Russian bombardments continued in eastern Ukraine, the UK defence chiefs predicted: “In the Donbas, Russian forces will likely focus on taking several small towns during the coming week, including Siversk and Dolyna on the approaches to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
“The urban areas of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk likely remain the principal objectives for this phase of the operation.”
In the south of the country, Ukrainian forces have launched counter-offensives to seize back territory captured by Russian troops.
The West is fighting an information war against the Kremlin and the MoD highlights Russian losses far more than Ukrainian defeats.
However, the propaganda coming out of the Kremlin is often far more questionable including claims that civilian buildings are not being targeted, given that thousands if not tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since Mr Putin launched his invasion on February 24.
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