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US Ambassador: Russia Aims to Bring Newly-Occupied Ukrainian Areas ‘Into Its Orbit’

A Russian national flag flies in front of buildings destroyed by Russian forces in the war-ravaged city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. (Photo by Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Moscow is working to bring “into its orbit” newly occupied areas in Ukraine, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Thursday, underlining concerns about Russian proxies replacing Ukrainian authorities as well as moves to invite Russia to annex the region around the key southeastern city of Kherson.

“Russia’s forces are removing the democratically elected officials in various municipal councils, who according to very credible and disturbing reports are being kidnapped, interned, disappeared, and sometimes killed,” said Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“In their place, according to these reports, Russia is substituting its puppets and proxies, who, like their counterparts in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics,’ operate in the

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