The Russian rouble will be introduced in regions of Ukraine now under Moscow’s military control, a move that undermines earlier claims by Russia that it was not seeking to occupy territory captured by its forces.
Moscow will introduce the rouble as the official currency in the Russian-controlled region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, a Russian official said on Thursday.
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“Beginning May 1, we will move to the rouble zone,” civilian and military administrator Kirill Stremousov was cited as saying by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
He specified there will be a grace period of four months when Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, would also be used. After the four-month transitional period, the Ukrainian hryvnia will cease to be valid.
“Then we will completely switch to settlements in roubles,” RIA Novosti quoted Stremousov as saying.
Stremousov’s announcement has yet to be confirmed by high-ranking Russian officials.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, condemned the plan as an “act of annexation” and accused Russian forces of “starving the people of Kherson by blocking humanitarian aid” to the city.
“The introduction of the Russian rouble in the region of Kherson is an act of annexation and another gross violation by Russia” of international law, she said.
Russia said earlier this week that it had seized control of the entire southern Kherson region, including its eponymous administrative capital, which fell to Russian troops soon after the February 24 invasion.
Moscow’s defence ministry claimed that “peaceful life” was being restored to the region and other regions that have been captured recently, despite reports in the Ukrainian press and on social media of ongoing protests against the Russian administration of Kherson.