Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break his country apart, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation Saturday.
Zelenskyy called on Ukraine's regions, including Kherson, which was captured by Russian forces, not to repeat the experience of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Pro-Russian separatists began fighting Ukrainian forces in those eastern regions in 2014.
“The occupiers on the territory of the Kherson region are trying to repeat the sad experience of the formation of pseudo-republics,” Zelenskyy said.
“They are blackmailing local leaders, putting pressure on deputies, looking for someone to bribe.”
City council members in Kherson, a southern city of 290,000, on Saturday rejected plans for a new pseudo-republic, Zelenskyy said.
Russia recognised the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic before invading Ukraine in February.
Moscow said it had to protect the separatist regions, and is demanding that Ukraine recognize their independence too.
“Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to break the war machine that has come to our land,” Zelenskyy said.