Putin's Latest Move: Declaring Martial Law

In the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2022 8:06 AM CDT
Putin Declares Martial Law in Illegally Annexed Regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Samara Region Governor Dmitry Azarov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.   (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed and gave additional emergency powers to the heads of all regions of Russia. Putin didn't immediately spell out the steps that would be taken under martial law, but said his order was effective starting Thursday. CNBC anticipates the civil administrations in those regions will be subbed out for military ones. Putin's decree gives law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific proposals and orders the creation of territorial defense forces in the four annexed regions, reports the AP. Reuters' take: "The moves, nearly eight months into the war, marked the latest escalation by Putin to counter a series of major defeats at the hands of Ukrainian forces since the start of September."

The upper house of Russia's parliament was set to quickly seal Putin’s decision to impose martial law in the annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions. Draft legislation indicates it may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship, and broader authority for law enforcement agencies. "We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people," Putin said in televised remarks at the start of a Security Council meeting. "Those who are on the frontlines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centers should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back."

"In the current situation, I consider it necessary to give additional powers to heads of all Russian regions," he also said without providing details. The announcement comes as Russian forces launched mass evacuations of civilians Wednesday from Kherson, which is located in the region of the same name and was one of the first major cities they seized in the invasion of Ukraine. It's a tacit acknowledgement that yet another stinging battlefield defeat may be unfolding for Putin. The AP reports the battle for the southern city of more than 250,000 people is a pivotal moment for both Ukraine and Russia heading into winter, when cold and difficult conditions could largely freeze front lines until the spring thaw.

(Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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