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Friday, February 16, 2024

Russia’s Putin signs bills annexing four regions of Ukraine

The four territories create a crucial land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. Together, the five regions make up around 20 percent of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed legislation to annex four territories of Ukraine, government documents showed.

The Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions are “accepted into the Russian Federation in accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation”, the documents said.

Putin also signed decrees formally appointing the current Moscow-backed heads of the four regions as their acting leaders.

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Earlier, the annexation legislation was unanimously supported by both Russia’s lower and upper chambers of parliament.

Putin last Friday presided over a grand ceremony at the Kremlin during which he signed agreements with the Moscow-installed leaders of the four regions to become subjects of the Russian Federation, despite condemnation from Kyiv and its allies in the West.

The four territories create a crucial land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Together, the five regions make up around 20 percent of Ukraine.

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But Russian forces do not have complete control over Kherson or Zaporizhzhia and the Kremlin has not yet confirmed what areas of those regions are being annexed.

No talks with Putin

On the other hand, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Friday his country had submitted a fast-track application to join the NATO military alliance and that he would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was still president.

In his video speech, Zelenskiy accused Russia of rewriting history and redrawing borders “using murder, blackmail, mistreatment and lies,” something he said Kyiv would not allow.

He said however that Kyiv remained committed to the idea of co-existence with Russia “on equal, honest, dignified and fair conditions”.

“Clearly, with this Russian president (that) is impossible. He does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia,” Zelenskiy said.

Read more: Russia vetoes UN resolution on proclaimed annexations in Ukraine

Zelenskiy said that while Ukraine waits for consensus among NATO member states, it could be protected under draft security guarantees proposed by Kyiv and known as the Kyiv Security Compact, which Moscow has rejected as an idea.

“We understand that this requires the consensus of all the alliance’s members… and therefore, while this is happening, we propose the realization of our proposals regarding security guarantees for Ukraine and all of Europe according to the Kyiv Security Compact,” he said.

Courtesy: AFP with additional input by GVS