During the ceremony, Putin said that the four provinces – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – will be incorporated into Russia and will be protected by “all available means”. They will join the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed after its initial more limited invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
The annexations represent a violation of international law and the vast majority of nations will not recognize the territory as Russian.
Putin also called on Kyiv for a ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table, but he made sure to assert that annexations would not be up for discussion.
“The choice of residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson, we will not discuss. It is done. Russia will not betray him,” Putin said.
He used the rest of his speech extensively to air conspiracies and accusations against the West, which he says is waging a “hybrid war” against Russia. He attempted to paint a version of events where the West is pushing a “neo-colonial” system and using the “dollar as a power tool”.
The expected statement was met this week with fresh warnings that Russia will be further isolated internationally, amid fears that Putin is using the statement as a pretext to escalate the war, saying the Ukrainians are now attacking Russian territory.
“The UK will never recognize Russia’s illegal annexations of Ukraine,” British defense chief Ben Wallace tweeted Friday morning. “Russia doesn’t even control some of these oblasts. The truth is that Russia is losing in Ukraine and its incompetent generals are sending thousands of people to their deaths to satisfy President Putin’s imperialist fantasy.
The United Nations was preparing on Friday to consider a US-sponsored resolution rejecting the latest territorial claims and calling on Russia to withdraw all its troops from Ukraine.
Russia exercises veto power in the UN Security Council, which usually deals with such matters, so diplomats are considering taking the resolution directly to the General Assembly.
At UN headquarters in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that annexation “would have no legal value and deserves condemnation”.
He told reporters that “the so-called referendums were held during an active armed conflict in areas under Russian occupation and outside the legal and constitutional framework of Ukraine.”
“They cannot be called authentic expressions of the popular will,” added António Guterres.
Putin’s latest provocation has also earned Washington and its European allies continued support for the Ukrainian resistance.
“The United States and our allies and partners will continue to assist Ukraine in its fight to defend its territory against Russian aggression,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said ahead of the Russian announcement, mocking what which he called a violation of international law.
Congressional lawmakers from both parties have been united in their calls to increase global pressure on Moscow, including through tougher economic sanctions.
“The international community must unequivocally denounce this illegal land grab and reaffirm our commitment to help Ukraine defend itself,” Idaho Sen said. jim rischtop Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Congress is also set to pass bipartisan legislation, the Non-Recognition of Russian Annexation of Ukrainian Territory Act, which would require the United States not to recognize any Russian claims to Ukrainian territory. And Thursday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) unveiled legislation that would halt military and economic aid to any country officially recognizing annexed territories as Russian.
Several former diplomats and historians have compared Putin’s strategy to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, when he seized the German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia and Poland and also held predetermined plebiscites.
“The parallels are uncanny, and after decades of overusing Hitler analogies, we finally have a case where they are appropriate,” said Daniel Fried, former ambassador to Poland and now Atlantic Council researcher, thinker from Washington. Tank. “Putin is stepping up and the future is uncertain and loaded.”
“The vote will destroy any chance – slim at best to begin with – of a political settlement between Russia and Ukraine based on mutual compromises,” added Rajan Menon, director of grand strategy at Defense Priorities, which advocates the restraint in foreign policy. “The result is that the war will go on forever.”