In Moscow, the Russian leader declares four Ukrainian regions part of Russia, a widely denounced move that marks an escalation in the war.
Per President Zelenskyy, ”We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement posted on the presidential website. He said Ukraine was already cooperating closely with NATO and argued that Ukraine’s army has already helped secure alliance members in Europe against Russian aggression by inflicting battlefield defeats on the Russian army in Ukraine.We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement posted on the presidential website. He said Ukraine was already cooperating closely with NATO and argued that Ukraine’s army has already helped secure alliance members in Europe against Russian aggression by inflicting battlefield defeats on the Russian army in Ukraine.
WHAT WE KNOW:
- Putin’s speech on annexation paints a stark picture of a face-off with the West.
- New U.S. sanctions on Russia hit defense and technology sectors and top officials.
- 25 civilians die in an attack on a convoy in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine says.
- What to know about Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian provinces.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to formally annex four Ukrainian territories, signing what he calls “accession treaties” that world powers refuse to recognize. It’s Putin’s latest attempt to redraw the map of Europe at Ukraine’s expense.
“The people made their choice,” said Putin in a signing ceremony at the Kremlin’s St. George hall. “And that choice won’t be betrayed” by Russia, he said.
The Russian leader called on Ukraine to end hostilities and hold negotiations with Moscow — but insisted that the status of the annexed territories was not up for discussion
Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”
Mr. Putin’s address came against a backdrop of Russian embarrassments on the battlefield , where Ukraine’s forces have scored stunning victories in recent weeks in the east. Even as the Russian leader spoke, officials said the Ukrainian army had moved closer to encircling the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.
Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly antagonistic standards, the speech was extraordinary, a combination of bluster and menace that mixed conspiratorial riffs against the American-led “neocolonial system” with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.
He referred to “the ruling circles of the so-called West” as “the enemy,” a word he rarely uses in reference to the West — and struck a tone of spiteful anger and defiance.
“I want the authorities in Kyiv and their real overlords in the West to hear me: The residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are becoming our citizens,” Putin said. “Forever.”
President Biden was quick to denounce Mr. Putin’s actions to annex the four territories, saying they “have no legitimacy’’ and adding that “the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.’’