Putin signs decrees to annex 4 Ukrainian regions, vows to defend Russian land

Moscow, Sep 30 (EFE).- Russia will use all forces at its disposal to protect its territory, president Vladimir Putin said Friday as he announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions. 

He told members of the political elite gathered at the Kremlin that the “will of millions” to join Russia had been expressed in the referendums held in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, which are partially controlled by Russian forces and their separatist allies. 

Directing a message at Kyiv and its Western allies, Putin said the citizens of the four regions set for annexation would become Russian citizens “for ever.”

A Russian woman holds a Russian national flag during a ceremony to sign treaties on new territories’ accession to Russia in downtown of Moscow, Russia, 30 September 2022.  EFE/EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

“We will protect our land using all of our forces and do everything to ensure people’s security,” he continued, adding that it was Russia’s “great liberating mission.”

Putin also called on Kyiv to return to peace talks but stated that the status of annexed regions was off the table. 

Putin’s nationalistic speech, in which he heavily criticized the West, was followed by a decree-signing ceremony involving the pro-Russian leaders of the four regions.

Kyiv and its Western allies have dismissed the referendums as “sham” polls and refused to recognize Russia’s annexation decrees.EFE

mos/jt