Putin to declare annexation of Ukrainian lands in main escalation of struggle By Reuters

© Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a convention of heads of safety and intelligence companies of the Commonwealth of Unbiased States member nations by way of a video hyperlink in Moscow, Russia, September 29, 2022. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin by way of RE

By Mark Trevelyan

LONDON (Reuters) – At a ceremony denounced by Ukraine as a “Kremlin freak present”, Russian President Vladimir Putin will proclaim the annexation of 4 Ukrainian areas on Friday, escalating his seven-month struggle and taking it into an unpredictable new section.

Putin will preside over a treaty-signing on “the entry of recent territories into the Russian Federation”, three days after the completion of rapidly staged referendums during which Moscow’s proxies within the occupied areas claimed majorities of as much as 99% in favour of becoming a member of Russia.

Ukraine and Western governments described these votes as bogus, illegitimate and carried out at gunpoint. “The Kremlin’s sham referenda are a futile effort to masks what quantities to an additional try at a land seize in Ukraine,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned on Thursday.

Moscow says folks selected freely to return to their “historic motherland”.

The ceremony – eight years after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine following an invasion and the same vote – will happen at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) within the columned St George’s Corridor of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the place marble plaques engraved in gold commemorate Russian army heroes.

However regardless of the triumphal setting, the annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson areas comes at a deadly second for Putin.

After months of grinding, attritional warfare, Ukraine seized the initiative this month by routing Russian forces within the northeastern Kharkiv area. Putin final week declared an unpopular partial mobilisation, prompting 1000’s of fighting-age males to flee the nation. Even staunch Kremlin allies have criticised the chaotic nature of the call-up, and Putin himself mentioned on Thursday that “all errors have to be corrected”.


Whereas it holds the overwhelming majority of Luhansk and Kherson areas, Russia controls solely about 60% of Donetsk and 70% of Zaporizhzhia, the place preventing has raged near Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

The hurried annexations imply entrance traces will now run by territory that Russia is declaring as its personal, and which Putin has mentioned he is able to defend with nuclear weapons if mandatory.

Some Western politicians known as {that a} bluff – one thing Putin explicitly denied. America says it has warned Russia of catastrophic penalties if it did use a nuclear weapon.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak mentioned on Thursday that the Kremlin occasion was a “freak present”, and legally meaningless. “Non-existent entities can not enter a rustic which is disintegrating,” he mentioned on Twitter (NYSE:).

United Nations Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres mentioned if Moscow proceeded, it will have “no authorized worth and deserves to be condemned”.

Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed official in Kherson area, printed a video of himself subsequent to Crimson Sq., declaring: “Victory is ours. We’re Russia.”

The Kremlin has not but mentioned whether or not Putin will attend a celebratory live performance on the sq. on Friday night. He is because of handle parliament individually at a later stage, paving the best way for it to ratify the annexation course of on or earlier than Oct. 7, when he marks his seventieth birthday.

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