Connect with us


Russian President Putin proclaims annexation of four Ukrainian regions



Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the biggest annexation of territory in postwar Europe on Friday, claiming control over swaths of Ukraine in defiance of international law and in spite of his forces facing another significant battlefield setback..

At a grand ceremony in the Kremlin, the Russian leader vowed to use “all available means” to defend the four regions he was co-opting, repeating a renewed nuclear threat that has escalated the seven-month war alongside his call-up of military reservists..

“This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said Friday, words that few outside Russia see as credible for a move condemned in the West as a brazen and illegal land grab.

His speech was followed by Moscow-installed leaders of the four areas of southern and eastern Ukraine signing documents proclaiming them part of Russia, before joining hands with Putin and singing the national anthem.

The United States, Ukraine and others have promised to retaliate with sanctions, while Kyiv has vowed to keep fighting to retake its occupied land. The annexation was also overshadowed by a deadly attack on a civilian convoy in the country’s south.

It comes after votes were staged in the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, that were widely criticized as rigged and preordained. Russian-installed local officials were accompanied by armed personnel going door to door.

As well as announcing the annexation, Putin has partially mobilized his military — prompting domestic blowback and an exodus of Russians fleeing the draft — and ramped up his nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West.

The moves are seen as a wider escalation after a series of punishing battlefield defeats at the hands of a lightning counteroffensive by Kyiv.

Putin delivered a speech Friday to hundreds of officials and other dignitaries, some in suits, some in military uniforms, at a lavish ceremony under the giant, gold chandeliers of Georgievsky Hall, in the Great Kremlin Palace.

READ ALSO  Russian president Vladimir Putin granted Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden

The ascension ceremony started a little after 3 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET), with the packed audience standing for a minute’s silence as Putin hailed the Russian “heroes” who have died in the war, which he calls a “special military operation.”

A stage was set up in Moscow with giant video screens and billboards proclaiming the four areas part of Russia. The Kremlin will celebrate its claim over what amounts to as much as 15% of Ukraine, the continent’s second-largest country, with a pop concert on the city’s iconic Red Square.

Follow us on social media: