Putin announces annexation of four Ukrainian regions
BI Desk || BusinessInsider
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Collected
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the formal annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Friday.
Speaking to hundreds of Russia’s top politicians in the Kremlin, Putin said voters in the referendums had made “an unequivocal choice” to join the Russian Federation.
“We suggest returning to the talks but we’re not going to discuss the choice that people there have made, and Russia is not going to betray it,” he said.
In a speech repeatedly interrupted by applause, Putin urged Ukraine to cease military action and return to the negotiating table.
Kyiv has vowed to recapture all the lands seized by Russia and said that Russia's decision to annex the territories has destroyed any prospect of talks.
Once the process is officially complete, Moscow will recognise four Ukrainian regions as Russian territory: Luhansk and Donetsk – home to two Russian-backed breakaway republics where fighting has been ongoing since 2014 – as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, two areas in southern Ukraine that have been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began.
The annexation announcement follows referendums in the regions that were dismissed as “a sham” by Ukraine and Western nations.
Putin warned Russia would defend the newly annexed territories with “all means” at its disposal.