On Sunday, the mayor of Melitopol,stated that “occupiers have a plan to issue Russian passports to half of the population in the annexed territories of Ukraine this spring, and that by September, 80 percent of that population will have citizenship of the aggressor country.”
According to the mayor, obtaining Russian passports is now necessary to perform essential tasks such as connecting to the internet, obtaining travel permits to other regions controlled by Russians in Ukraine, and receiving social benefits.
He emphasized that the Kremlin is resorting to such actions because they “want to make as many people as possible accomplices in their crimes.”
The mayor also alleged that the invaders plan to export over 1 million tons of grain from the part of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast they control, using ports in Berdyansk and Mariupol, as well as railway connections to Russia. He claimed that this is the theft of Ukrainian property created by local farmers.
The British Ministry of Defense, in its report released on Sunday, concluded that the decision of the occupation administration in March to declare Melitopol as the capital of the region indicates that the chances of Russians capturing Zaporizhzhia are slim.
In late September 2022, illegal pseudo-referendums were held in parts of the Cherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts in southern Ukraine, as well as in the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east of the country.
These referendums endorsed the annexation of these territories by Russia. However, the decision by the Kremlin was not recognized by most countries worldwide, including all EU and NATO member states.