The city of Zaporizhia is still under Ukrainian control, but Russia's deputy prime minister has already made plans to Russify the area. The nuclear power plant there will continue to supply electricity for Ukraine, but Kyiv will have to pay for it in the future, Chusnullin explained at the on-site visit.
Russia wants to tie the partially conquered Zaporizhia region in south-east Ukraine firmly to itself in the future. "I think the perspective of the region lies in working in our harmonious Russian family," said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin, according to the RBK news agency, during a visit to the small town of Melitopol, which is occupied by the Russian military. The regional capital of Zaporizhia itself is still controlled by Ukrainian troops.
Chusnullin said he came to provide "maximum help" with the integration of the area. The region can help supply Russia with construction materials, which the country lacks, the government official said. At the same time, he said that the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant - the most powerful in all of Europe - which was captured by Russian troops in early March - should in future only supply Ukraine with electricity if it pays for it.
Chuznullin had already laid claims to this region during a visit to the Kherson region west of Zaporizhia on Tuesday. Cherson will take a "worthy place in our Russian family," Chusnullin on a visit to the port city. The Russian agency Ria Novosti quoted him as saying that they would live and work together in the future. On May 1, Russia introduced the Russian ruble as official currency in the region. A few days ago, the deputy chief of the pro-Russian administration in Cherson, Kirill Stremoussov, brought up a formal application for Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to join the conversation. The Ukrainian government was convinced that a Russification of the Cherson region would fail.
So far, the Kremlin has only officially announced the "liberation" of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as a war goal. A few weeks ago, however, a Russian commander disclosed plans by the Moscow military to incorporate all of southern Ukraine - which would give Russia a land connection to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.