Vladimir Putin has declared martial law in the four recently annexed regions of Ukraine.
The regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were illegally annexed by Russian forces following a series of sham referendums in the areas. Putin made the declaration as he warned of a Ukrainian assault on the city of Kherson.
Martial law will give emergency powers to the Russian-backed head of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. It is the latest move in the war, in which Russia has found itself on the backfoot.
What is martial law?
Martial law is when the military is given temporary power over the civil functions and laws. In general, it is often imposed during times of unrest or emergency.
Why has Putin imposed martial law?
The move from Putin comes as the Russian leader attempts to tighten the grip on the four illegally annexed regions of Ukraine. During a televised address, he said: “We are working on solving very complex, large-scale tasks to ensure a reliable future for Russia, the future of our people.”
Law enforcement agencies in each region have been given three days to submit proposals on what they intend to do with the new power.
According to official documents released by the Kremlin detailing the law, martial law will provide law enforcement agencies the ability to undertake “mobilisation measures in the economic sphere” as well as carry out “protection of the population and territories from natural and man-made emergencies”.
The law will also see agencies be permitted to provide “temporary resettlement of residents to safe areas with the obligatory provision of such residents with stationary or temporary living quarters”.
There are fears that the declaration of martial law could restrict the freedom of movement of Ukrainian citizens within these regions. Other fears also include a crackdown on criticism of the Russian government.
It comes after Putin warned of a Ukrainian counterstrike on the city of Kherson. Russian forces are attempting to evacuate around 60,000 residents across the Dnipro River into Russia.
What has Ukraine said about the martial law?
However, Ukraine has branded the move a “propaganda show”. The government has told residents not to comply with the evacuation order under the guise that Ukrainian forces would be launching an assault on the city of Kherson.
Yaroslav Yanushevich, the head of the Kherson regional military administration, said: “People of Kherson, I urge you to ignore everything the occupiers tell you or demand from you. They want to take our people hostage and use them as human shields.
“Do not allow the evil empire to hide behind you, your parents, your children. Ukrainian army does not destroy Ukrainian cities and villages.”