Putin Annexes 15% Of Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday annexed four territories making 15% of Ukraine controlled by his army at a grand ceremony in the Kremlin and urged Kyiv to lay down its arms and negotiate an end to seven months of fighting.
The lavish ceremony at the Kremlin, a turning point in recent post-Soviet history, came hours after a shelling killed 25 people in Ukraine’s southern region of Zaporizhzhia, one of the worst attacks against civilians in months.
Putin was defiant during an address to Russia’s most senior political elite, telling the West the land grab was irreversible and calling on Ukraine’s emboldened army to give up and negotiate a surrender.
“I want to say this to the Kyiv regime and its masters in the West: People living in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens forever,” Putin said.
“We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately stop fighting and stop all hostilities… and return to the negotiating table,” the Russian leader added.
The packed hall erupted to chants of “Russia! Russia” after the four leaders inked the deal, and Putin — rarely seen making physical contact since the pandemic — joined hands with his proxy leaders and was shown shouting along in unison on state TV.
Leading up to the ceremony Putin warned he could use nuclear weapons to retain control of the territories as Kyiv vowed the move would make no difference to its aims of kicking out Russian troops.
Ukraine’s closest backer, Washington, said it would “never” recognise Russia’s authority in the regions.