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Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From July 23 to July 29, 2022

The Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Olga Cherkhurska, Clelia Frouté.

07/25/2022: The occupation authorities of Kherson and Zaporizhia regions have confirmed their intention to hold a referendum next September. -Olga Chekhurska-

The authorities administering the occupied Ukrainian regions have announced the organisation of a referendum on joining the Russian Federation in early autumn.

We are currently studying the date on which we will organise a referendum. We want to know the opinion of the inhabitants of the Kherson and Zaporizhia region. We are nearby and it is obvious that it will be more convenient for us to organise it on the same day for two regions,” said the head of the military-civilian administration of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo.

Officially the Russian authorities have not announced any dates for the referendums, previously only Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has declared that “Ukrainian citizens will determine their own destiny”.

From the start of the offensive on February 24 against Ukraine, the Russian army conquered a large part of two southern regions, those of Kherson and Zaporizhia. Currently, the entire territory of the Kherson region and 70% of the Zaporizhia region is under the control of the Russian Armed Forces. On June 11, Russian passports began to be issued in the occupied territories of these two regions. A month later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the simplified granting of Russian citizenship to all residents of Ukraine.

For its part, Kiev is leading a major counter-offensive to recover the lost territories in the south of the country. On July 27, the Ukrainian army bombed an Antonovsky bridge in Kherson used by the Russian army for its supplies.

07/29/2022: Announcements for the export of Ukrainian cereals through the maritime corridor. -Clelia Frouté-

On July 29, G7 ambassadors visited Odessa in Ukraine, joined by Türkiye and President Volodymyr Zelensky, to “control” the launch of the “grain corridor” through the Black Sea. The British ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, stressed in particular “the importance of the UN negotiated agreement to allow food to leave Ukraine”, and recalled that “Russia must respect the agreement”. Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine expects “signals from [its] partners”, and reiterated the importance of this for Ukraine “to remain a guarantor of global food security”. Ukraine plans to export about 3 million tonnes of grain each month from three seaports in the Odessa region, Odessa, Chernommorsk and Yuzhny.

The Ukrainian grain export corridor was part of an agreement signed on July 22, 2022 by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN in Istanbul to allow the export of grain, but also fertilisers and wheat, which were blocked by sanctions, necessary for the economy and consumption of many countries at risk of a food crisis. The agreement was called into question the day after it was signed following Russian bombing of the port of Odessa, and the possibility of having to export by land had been raised. However, the UN has announced that the first ship carrying grain could go to Somalia today.

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