MOSCOW, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced martial law in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine Wednesday that Moscow last month claimed as its own territory but is struggling to defend from Ukrainian advances.
The upper house of Russia’s parliament was set to quickly seal Putin’s decision to impose martial law in the annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Draft legislation indicates it may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship and broader authority for law enforcement agencies.
In televised remarks to members of his security council, Putin also instructed the government to set up a special coordinating council under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to work with Russia’s regions to boost Moscow’s war effort.
The package of moves, nearly eight months into the war, marked the latest escalation by Putin to counter a series of major defeats at the hands of Ukrainian forces since the start of September.
In Kherson, among the first Ukrainian cities seized by Russian forces, Moscow-installed authorities are bracing for a Ukrainian assault to take it back, telling residents to expect shelling and to evacuate.
Text messages on Wednesday urged people to leave the southern city.
Russian state TV showed people gathering at a local river port waiting for evacuation to the left bank of the Dnieper.
Moscow-installed authorities of the Kherson region plan to evacuate up to 60,000 civilians over the next six days.
Kherson, with a capital of the same name, is one of four regions incorporated into Russia last month.
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