Russian President Vladimir Putin is gearing up to give his official seal of approval for the annexation of captured regions of Ukraine on Friday (September 30). This will make Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions official from Russia’s perspective. Russia does not yet fully control these regions but has carried out so-called referendums and even claimed victory.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 this year. After sustained advances in the initial months, Russian forces were forced to retreat from large swathes of land as Ukrainian forces mounted a counter-attack.
The referendums carried out in the four regions have been rejected by Kiev and the West. US, UK and Canada have said that they will ‘never recognise’ the result of these ‘sham’ referendums.
Watch | Russia claims victory in Ukrainian territories, West calls Moscow’s referendum votes as ‘sham’
When Putin gives formal approval, a legal step will have been taken to annex 15 per cent of Ukraine’s territory. This would also signify Putin’s intention of doubling down on his initially stated goals.
Washington and the European Union are set to impose additional sanctions on Russia over the plan, and even some of Russia’s close traditional allies, such as Serbia and Kazakhstan, say they will not recognise the annexation.
The signing ceremony will be held in one of the Kremlin’s grandest halls with the pro-Russian figures Moscow considers to be leaders of the four Ukrainian regions — Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia says the referendums were genuine and show public support for the move.
After days of speculation over exactly how Russia would mark the annexation, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed some details of the ceremony on Thursday.
Agreements “on the accession of new territories into the Russian Federation” will be signed “with all four territories that held referendums and made corresponding requests to the Russian side,” Peskov said.
Putin will sign four “treaties of accession” in Moscow, and meet the Russian-installed leaders of Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia before a ceremony at the Kremlin.
“The signing ceremony of the treaties on new territories joining Russia will be held tomorrow at the Grand Kremlin Palace in St George’s Hall,” Peskov said on Thursday.
(With inputs from agencies)