TOP STORIES Moscow says children born in occupied Kherson will automatically...

Moscow says children born in occupied Kherson will automatically receive Russian citizenship.

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While Ukrainian forces continued counterattacks to retake land in southern Ukraine, Russia took another step in its efforts to consolidate its control in the region: A proxy government in the Kherson region announced on Friday that all newborns would be granted Russian citizenship.

“Children born after February 24 in the Kherson region will automatically receive the citizenship of the Russian Federation,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow regional administration, told RIA Novosti, referring to the date of the Russian invasion. According to him, orphans will also be registered as Russian citizens.

This step was taken after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to speed up the process of obtaining citizenship by Ukrainians living in the occupied territories, and local authorities began issuing Russian passports to local residents. This is part of Moscow’s broader efforts to integrate the occupied territories with Russia.

“The Russian authorities continue to face difficulties in implementing their occupation plans,” according to the latest analysis of the conflict by the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War. “Pro-Ukrainian actions are likely to continue to undermine Russia’s efforts to consolidate full-scale administrative control over the occupied territories and plans for Russian annexation.”

Natalia Gumeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Military Command, said Ukrainian forces continue to make tactical gains in pinpoint counterattacks. According to the Ukrainian military, they are now fighting in villages within 20 miles of the regional center of Kherson. Ms Gumenyuk said she would not go into details about exactly where the Ukrainian forces were advancing because “every name mentioned could give information to the enemies.”

According to her, Russian troops are strengthening their defensive positions and conducting long-range artillery fire on Ukrainian forces and recently liberated towns and villages.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the civilian population to leave the occupied territory, as Russian troops mine many roads. “Even when people are about to evacuate, there is a high risk that people will be directed to these mined areas,” she said.

Russia has already granted Russian citizenship to orphans from other parts of occupied Ukraine, prompting outrage in Kyiv.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of smuggling some 200,000 children to Russia since the start of the war. That number, he said in a speech last month, includes children from orphanages, children taken with their parents, and children separated from their families.

“The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people, but to make the deportees forget about Ukraine and cannot return,” he said.

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