Putin declares 4 ‘new regions’ annexation in parts of Ukraine
Russia president Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of 4 regions in east Ukraine on Friday in a speech at the Kremlin but the event was overshadowed by one of Russia‘s worst battlefield defeats of the war, with one of its main garrisons surrounded.
“People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever,” Putin told a crowd of officials in a ceremony in an ornate hall.
“We will defend our land with all our strength and all our means,” he said, calling on “the Kyiv regime to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiation table.”
Putin’s proclamation of Russian rule over 15 per cent of Ukraine – the biggest annexation in Europe since the Second World War- has been firmly rejected by Western countries and even many of Russia’s close allies. UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres called it an illegal violation of the UN charter.
It comes as Russian forces have faced setbacks on the battlefield, with one of the worst so far looming even as Putin spoke. Pro-Russian officials acknowledged that Russian troops were on the verge of encirclement in Lyman, their main garrison in the north of Donetsk province.
That could open the way for Ukraine to recapture swathes of the territory that Putin has now declared to be part of Russia.
The war’s brutality was further hammered home just hours before Putin’s speech when missiles struck a convoy of civilian cars preparing to cross the frontline from Ukrainian-held territory in Zaporozhzhia province. Reuters saw a dozen bodies amid blasted cars in a scene of carnage. Ukraine said 25 people had been killed and 74 wounded.
“The enemy is raging and seeking revenge for our steadfastness and his failures,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. “Bloodthirsty scum! You will definitely answer. For every lost Ukrainian life!”
The Ukrainian army was “trying at all costs to spoil our historic events,” Denis Pushilin said. “This is very unpleasant news, but we must look soberly at the situation and draw conclusions from our mistakes.”
Ukraine’s military said it was withholding details of the situation on the battlefield until the area was stabilized, but that an operation was under way to encircle Russian forces.
“All the approaches and logistic routes of the enemy, through which they delivered ammunition and manpower, are in fact under fire control” of the Ukrainian army, said Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson Ukrainian troops in the east.
Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko tweeted: “Lyman is surrounded! The Ukrainian army is already in Yampil. The Russian army is trying to escape.”
Pro-Russian military bloggers reported Ukrainian forces had cut off the escape of thousands of Russian troops. Pushilin said one road to Lyman was still open, though he acknowledged it was now under Ukrainian artillery fire.
Hours before Putin spoke, missiles tore through a convoy of civilian cars preparing to cross from Ukrainian-held territory near Zaporizhzhia into the Russian-occupied zone, killing at least 23 civilians.
Last week he endorsed the annexation of Russian-held territory, ordered the call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists, and threatened to use nuclear weapons if Russia was attacked.
Zelenskyy promised a strong response to the annexations and summoned his defense and security chiefs for an emergency meeting on Friday.
“The United States will never, never, never recognize Russia’s claims on Ukraine sovereign territory,” US president Biden warned at a Pacific Islands summit in Washington. “This so-called referenda was a sham – an absolute sham – and the results were manufactured in Moscow,” he promised a new range of swift and severe punishments for Russia.
Our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that “stronger sanctions” would be announced shortly against Russia over the Kremlin’s plans to annex four Russian-controlled regions in Ukraine. The move comes after Russia held what Trudeau and other leaders have called “sham” referendums on whether those regions wished to rejoin Russia. He did not specify what the sanctions would involve.
Part of the article was reported by Global News.