Day 219: Attack in Zaporizhzhia Kills 25; Putin Announces Annexation of Four Regions

As Russian Pres. Putin announced the annexation of four regions in Ukraine on Friday, an earlier attack on the Zaporizhzhia region – one of the territories being annexed alongside Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson – left at least 25 civilians dead and injured as many as 50.

Day 219: Attack in Zaporizhzhia Kills 25; Putin Announces Annexation of Four Regions
Image credit: Ukrinform [via Ukrinform]

Facts

  • As Russian Pres. Putin announced the annexation of four regions in Ukraine on Friday, an earlier attack on the Zaporizhzhia region – one of the territories being annexed alongside Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson – left at least 25 civilians dead and injured as many as 50.
  • Ukrainian officials, including the governor for the Zaporizhzhia region Oleksandr Starukh and Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, alleged Russia was responsible for the attack. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an adviser to Zelenskyy, alleged 16 S-300 surface-to-air missiles were fired, four of which struck near a convoy of civilian cars that were "on their way to the temporarily occupied territory to pick up their relatives."
  • Meanwhile, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in Zaporizhzhia, alleged that Ukrainian armed forces were responsible, claiming the convoy had formed in protest of a Ukrainian checkpoint that barred civilians from leaving for Russia-controlled territories and that they were subject to reprisals. Neither claim could be independently confirmed, but images from the scene suggest the use of small arms and artillery in addition to the possible use of missiles.
  • Meanwhile, in his address announcing the annexation of the territories, making up an estimated 15% of Ukrainian land, Putin declared: "There are four new regions of Russia," adding it "is the will of millions of people" and it is their "integral right" as stated in the UN charter. He further repeated his allegation that the residents of these areas have been "victims of inhumane terrorist attacks conducted by the Kyiv regime."
  • Earlier, UN Sec.-Gen. António Guterres warned annexing Ukrainian territory would violate the UN charter and has "no legal value." He added it was “a dangerous escalation” and that it “must not be accepted.” A number of Western leaders reiterated that they consider the referendums illegitimate and that they hold no valid legal status. Hours after Putin's announcement, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine will officially apply to join NATO in an "expedited manner."
  • There were multiple developments on the ground: Ukrainian forces have reportedly "semi-encircled" pro-Russian forces in Lyman as Ukrainian forces pressed on from gains in Kharkiv; Russian strikes were recorded in Dnipropetrovsk - where one person was reported killed and two were injured - and in Donetsk, where one civilian was reported killed; Eight people were reported injured in the Russian shelling of Mykolaiv, and; Pro-Russia separatists in the region reported two civilians killed and six more injured.

Sources: Ukrinform, Guardian, Tass, and Associated Press.

Narratives

  • Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by The Guardian. As Russia illegally annexes Ukrainian territory following its sham referendums, Moscow continues to terrorize Ukraine's citizens by carrying out criminal attacks on its civilian population. This aggression must be met with a strong response.
  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by Tass. Following previous acts of reprisals, this tragic attack on civilians was carried out by Ukrainian forces who wanted to inflict punishment on those who wished to escape their government into Russian territory.

Predictions