In the latest attempt to cement its illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, Russia announced Friday that it will impose Moscow time in the parts of four Ukrainian regions now under control of its invading forces.
Now, Russia said it will move the clocks forward by one hour so those areas are on Moscow time.
“The gradual synchronization of Russia’s legislation continues after four new territories are integrated into its structure,” Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade wrote. “In the near future the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions will be included in the 2nd time zone, to which Moscow time applies.”
It was not clear precisely when the change would take place. But Ukraine, unlike Russia, observes daylight saving time, so all of its clocks are due to spring forward by one hour on March 26, regardless of Moscow’s annexation aspirations.
On Sept. 30, Putin signed a decree annexing the four Ukrainian regions despite Russian forces not fully controlling any of them. In November, Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Kherson, the only regional capital Moscow had taken since the start of the invasion. Russian proxies have controlled the capitals of Luhansk and Donetsk since 2014, and its forces have so far not been able to reach Zaporizhzhia city.
Despite repeated military setbacks, Putin has declared that Russia will never give up the regions, and the Kremlin now insists that areas it does not control must be “liberated” from Ukraine. The illegal annexation has been widely condemned by the international community.
The time zone switch in the occupied areas is the latest effort by Russian authorities to “Russify” captured Ukrainian territories and to culturally and legally integrate the residents.
The names of streets and highways have been changed to Russian names, and schools have been forced to adopt the Russian curriculum, in addition to the circulation of Russian money and passports.
Meanwhile, in a fresh round of sanctions, Japan on Friday announced an export ban Friday on dozens of items to Russia, including water cannon systems, tear gas, explosives, X-ray inspection equipment and robots.
In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Tokyo’s decisions “do not bring anything terrible for us.”
And in the latest example of the Kremlin’s crackdown on media, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office declared Meduza, a popular Russian independent news outlet, as an “undesirable” organization in Russia.
The move is designed to force entities to cease operations in Russia, and it puts staff and financial donors at risk of prosecution and long prison sentences.
On Thursday, the Prosecutor’s Office said Meduza “poses a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and the security of the Russian Federation.”
The European Union condemned the move. “This decision shows that it is not enough for the Russian authorities to disseminate manipulative information about Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell said. “They also want to prevent independent media from providing Russian audiences with access to fact-based information about this war.”
As Moscow remained on its war footing, regions across Ukraine on Friday continued to experience emergency power outages following the latest series of Russian airstrikes on Thursday.
Ukrenergo, the state power grid operator, said that the missile strikes had knocked out electricity around Kyiv, the capital, as well as the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, and Lviv in the west. Ukrainian officials said at least 11 people were killed and 11 others injured in Thursday’s attack.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday that its forces had hit Ukraine’s infrastructure during Thursday’s assault with drones and a “massive missile strike” from the air and sea. The ministry said the attacks had disrupted the “transportation of weapons and ammunition” — including arms supplied by NATO countries like the United States.
Former President Donald Trump, posting on his Truth Social platform, asserted that the war “would never have happened” if he were president, and boasted, “Even now, if president, I would be able to negotiate an end to this horrible and rapidly escalating war within 24 hours.”
Asked about those remarks, Peskov said Friday that the United States and its allies had no interest in peace. Peskov asserted that Washington held a “key” to end the war because it could tell Kyiv to stop fighting. “We now see that the current White House leader does not want to use this key,” Peskov said. “On the contrary, he chooses to continue pumping Ukraine with weapons.”