Medvedev denounces Zelensky’s ‘territorial claims’ to Russia
The latest decree by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky essentially amounts to “territorial claims” on sovereign Russian regions, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday. Posting on Telegram, he was referring to a document declaring six Russian regions to be “historically inhabited by Ukrainians.”
Signed on Monday, Ukraine’s Day of Unity, the presidential decree claims that six territories that are universally recognized as a part of Russia – the Krasnodar, Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk regions – had been “historically” populated by “ethnic Ukrainians” that were then supposedly subjected to “forced Russification.”
The document then orders the Kiev government to develop an “action plan” to “preserve” the Ukrainian national identity in Russia and demands the “true history” of Ukraine be made known to the “world.” It also demands Russia provide people living in these regions with access to Ukrainian-language mass media and to some special “civil, social, cultural and religious rights.”
Medvedev dismissed the decree as a “crude PR stunt” aimed at drawing public attention away from the Ukrainian forces’ failures on the front lines. He also said there was even no need to comment on the contents of the order, since the territories mentioned in it have always been part of Russia.
The former president (2008-2012) also said it was high time Zelensky “stopped” such policies and abandoned them, or he might end up “annexing Canada in the near future.”
Zelensky himself described signing the decree as a way to promote “truth about Ukrainians… and their history.” He also claimed that it was aimed at “restoring the truth about the historical past for the Ukrainian future.”
The Russian regions mentioned in the decree have been regularly subjected to drone and missile attacks as well as shelling by the Ukrainian troops. In December, Belgorod – the capital of one of the regions supposedly “historically inhabited by Ukrainians” – was struck by a major Ukrainian attack. The strike claimed the lives of 25 people, including children. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that Kiev’s forces used banned cluster munitions in an attack targeting the city center just a day before New Year’s Eve celebrations.