MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized the independence of Ukraine’s Zaporizhia and Kherson regions under presidential decrees issued late Thursday on the eve of Kremlin’s completion of annexation.
‘I order recognition of state sovereignty and independence’ of southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, Putin said in decrees, as Russia prepares to formalize Friday the annexation of the two regions with Donetsk and Lugansk.
Moscow announced it would annex four occupied territories from Ukraine in a grand ceremony at the Kremlin on Friday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the annexation of the territories will be formalized at the ceremony and Putin will deliver a grand speech.
Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend the areas.
But threats have not deterred a full-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive that has pushed Russian forces east and is on the edge of the Donetsk region town of Lyman, which Moscow forces have beaten. for weeks before capturing her this summer.
Kremlin-installed leaders from the four regions that Putin called for annexation this week met ahead of the ceremony in the Russian capital on Thursday.
Their near-simultaneous motions came after claims residents unanimously backed the decision in hastily-organized referendums that Kyiv and the West have dismissed as illegal, fraudulent and void.
Ukraine said the only appropriate response from the West was to hit Russia with more sanctions and provide Ukrainian forces with more weapons to continue retaking territory.
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday: “The United States will never, ever, ever recognize Russia’s claims to Ukraine’s sovereignty.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also dismissed the annexation plans, condemning them as “a dangerous escalation” that “has no place in the modern world”.
“It’s unacceptable,” he said.
- Editor/ additional report by AFP