Day 750: Ukraine warns Russia’s attempts to hold “presidential election” in occupied territories would be illegal

Ukraine begins to rotate frontline troops. NATO Secretary General urges allies to ramp up military supplies to Ukraine. Ukraine warns that Russia’s attempts to hold “presidential election” in the occupied territories of Ukraine would be illegal.

Ukraine begins to rotate frontline troops

The Ukrainian military command has started rotating troops serving on the frontlines, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Thursday. 

“Here’s a positive thing: despite the difficult situation across the entire front line, we have managed to begin rotating troops who have been performing combat tasks on the frontlines for a long time,” Syrskyi said on Facebook.

He said it would stabilize the situation and have a positive effect on the morale and psychological state of troops.

Ukraine’s army chief also said he had made all necessary decisions to bolster the combat capabilities of the brigades serving in the Zaporizhzhia direction. 

On February 27, the 110th Cpl. Gen. Marko Bezruchko Separate Mechanized Brigade left on rotation for the first time since the invasion.

On March 11, spokesperson for Ukraine’s defense forces in the Tavria direction, Captain Dmytro Lykhoviy said that the military command began to rotate brigades that have been long serving on the frontline and have been taking part in complex operations in the Tavria direction.

NATO Secretary General urges allies to ramp up military supplies to Ukraine

NATO allies have the capacity to provide more military supplies to Ukraine, but need to show the political will to do so, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday during a press briefing after the launch of the alliance’s annual report for 2023.

“Unprecedented aid from NATO allies has helped Ukraine survive as an independent nation. But Ukraine needs even more support and they need it now,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “The Ukrainians are not running out of courage. They are running out of ammunition. Together, we have the capacity to provide Ukraine what it needs. Now we need to show the political will to do so.”

“All allies need to dig deep and deliver quickly. Every day of delay has real consequences on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

“This is a critical moment. And it would be a grave, historic mistake to allow Putin to prevail. We cannot allow authoritarian leaders to get their way by using force,” he continued. Announcing the results of NATO’s annual polling, Stoltenberg said two-thirds of people across the Alliance want their country to continue supporting Ukraine.

“Public support for NATO is extremely strong on both sides of the Atlantic. If a vote were held today, an overwhelming majority of citizens across Allied countries would vote in favor of NATO,” the Secretary General added.

Ukraine warns Russia’s attempts to hold “presidential election” in occupied territories would be illegal

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday that Russian attempts to hold the presidential election in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine — in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, in Russia-controlled parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions, would be illegal and would have no legal effect.

The ongoing Russian campaign to imitate presidential elections conducted in the occupied parts of Ukraine demonstrates Russia’s continued “flagrant disregard for international law norms and principles,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.

“Despite the repeated condemnation by the international community of the Russian Federation’s holding of legally null and void events in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine under the guise of ‘pseudo-referendums’ and ‘elections’, the Russian leadership deliberately ignores calls for an end to such actions and, contrary to numerous UN General Assembly resolutions and decisions of a number of other authoritative international organizations in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, continues to attempt to annex the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation as a result of armed aggression by extending Russian legislation to them,” the statement reads.

Forcing millions of Ukrainians who live in the temporarily occupied territories or who have been forcibly moved to Russia to participate in the “election” is equally illegal, it continues. “This, combined with the absence of any signs of compliance with generally recognized democratic principles and election standards in the Russian Federation, as well as the elimination of opponents of the Russian authorities, calls into question the objectivity and legitimacy of any results of these ‘pseudo-elections’,” the ministry said.

Ukraine calls on foreign states and international organizations not to send observers to monitor what the Kremlin passes off as the presidential election in the sovereign territory of Ukraine. It also urges them not to recognize the results of the “vote”, warning that all violators of the Ukrainian law will be brought to justice.

“Russia’s dictatorship has long had nothing to do with democracy, including open and competitive elections. Vladimir Putin, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of committing serious war crimes, has been in power for 24 years, not through the free expression of the people’s will, but through manipulation of the Russian Federation’s Constitution, total propaganda, the destruction of all manifestations of political competition and political violence, including the assassination of significant independent political figures,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said in a statement.

Cementing Putin’s aggressive and revanchist regime is an unprecedented challenge for Europe, Central Asia, and other parts of the world that could become subject of the Russian terror and chaos. “Ignoring this will only heighten the threat to international peace and security,” the statement reads.

“We urge the international media and public figures not to assist the Kremlin in creating the illusion of an electoral process and to refrain from referring to this farce as ‘elections’ in the language of democratic states,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.