The Russian-installed puppet government in the Ukrainian city of Kherson said Wednesday that it would be asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex the Kherson oblast.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kremlin’s occupation authority in the city, made the announcement in response to speculation among Ukrainian authorities that the puppet-government would hold a “referendum” attempting to declare the oblast — of which Kherson is the regional capital — independent.
Such dubiously democratic referenda were passed at the behest of Russian-backed separatists in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in 2014 during Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Stremousov, however, balked at the notion.
“The city of Kherson is Russia,” the puppet-leader told Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
He said he would ask the Kremlin to declare the territory — which sits on the northern border of Crimea — a “proper region” of Russia.
The city of Kherson was taken by Russian forces in the early days of the war. It remains the only major population center to fall to the Kremlin in the 11-week invasion.
Kherson residents have protested the occupation throughout the war and have at times been met by live fire from Russian troops.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, mocked the proposal on Twitter.
“The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter,” he wrote. “The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play.”