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UK Defense Ministry: Russia claims to 'formally' integrate occupied areas into its southern military district

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 4, 2023 10:44 AM 1 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Russia has incorporated the occupied and illegally annexed territories in Ukraine's south and east into its Southern Military District as part of major structural reforms in the Russian military, the U.K. defence ministry reported on Feb. 4.

In its recent update, the ministry drew attention to the Feb. 3 report by the Russian government-controlled news agency TASS that claimed Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts "are being placed under the three-star command which is headquartered in Rostov-on-Don."

According to the report, the announcement comes after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russia's "military expansion" would include the establishment of "self-sufficient force groupings" in Ukraine.

"The move highlights that the Russian military likely aspires to integrate newly occupied territory into a long-term strategic posture," reads the briefing.

According to the ministry, this move is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the campaign.

"Russia currently deploys forces from across all of Russia's military districts, commanded by an ad hoc deployed headquarters," the ministry said.

On Feb. 3, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported that the scale of involvement of Russian prisoners recruited by the state-backed mercenary Wagner Group in the war against Ukraine has "probably significantly reduced" compared to its peak between summer and fall 2022.

For months, the Wagner Group, Russia's most high-profile mercenary group, has played a key role in the battles for the Bakhmut area in Donetsk Oblast, alongside the Russian military.

Ukraine enters 2023 with frail upper hand over Russia
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