Vladimir Putin has signed “accession treaties” formalising Russia’s illegal annexation of four occupied regions in Ukraine,
The Russian government spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the signing of the “treaties on the accession of territories into the Russian Federation” would take place at 3pm local time in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall. Putin would deliver a “major” speech at the ceremony.
The announcement set off a fresh round of international condemnation. “Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned,” the UN secretary general, António Guterres, told reporters.
Joe Biden said that the US would never recognise Russia’s claims on Ukraine’s territory, and denounced the fake referendums as an “absolute sham,” saying, “The results were manufactured in Moscow.”
The annexation will make the chance of a negotiated settlement to end the war even more remote. Russia amended its constitution in 2022 to forbid ceding territory the country has formally annexed.
It was initially seen as a way to prevent a future Russian leader from ceding Crimea, which was annexed in 2014. But the law would also forbid Russia from ceding territories occupied since February or those not currently under Kremlin control.
Taken together, Russia is annexing at least 40,000 square miles of eastern and southern Ukraine, about 15% of Ukraine’s total area, equal to the size of Portugal or Serbia.
Kyiv has indicated it will fight to reclaim all of its lands. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, promised a strong response to the annexations and has convened an emergency meeting with his defence and security chiefs.
Read more at the Guardian