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Vladimir Putin annexed four Ukrainian regions

Vladimir Putin has seized four regions of southeastern Ukraine and vowed to make use of “all means” at Russia’s disposal to guard the territory, deepening his anger at his conflict in opposition to Kyiv and its Western allies.

At a ceremony marking the transfer on Friday, Russia’s president known as on Ukraine to finish the conflict – however reserved his strongest anger for Kyiv’s “true masters” within the West, who he accused of attempting to “destroy” Russia.

The annexations are a dramatic try to lift the stakes within the battle by bringing Russia underneath its nuclear umbrella.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned the transfer “marks probably the most severe escalation for the reason that starting of the conflict”.

In response, the US imposed sanctions on Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina as a part of a brand new package deal of measures. In an announcement, the G7 overseas ministers condemned the “unlawful seizure of sovereign Ukrainian territory”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky introduced his nation’s official utility for accelerated accession to NATO. EU power ministers are assembly on a brand new spherical of punitive measures, together with a plan to cap Russian oil costs.

In a 37-minute speech within the Kremlin’s ornate St George’s Hall, Putin mentioned the assault on four areas, which he now considers a part of his nation’s territory, can be an assault on Russia and can be met with full power. .

Map showing Ukraine and Russia connecting four regions of Ukraine

“We will defend our lands with all of the means at our disposal and do all the pieces to save lots of our folks. This is our nice liberation mission,” he mentioned.

Putin has mentioned Russia is open to peace talks with Ukraine, however has not declared the four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia off-limits for future talks after rapidly held “referendums”.

“The folks have made their alternative, an unequivocal alternative,” Putin mentioned, describing the vote, which confronted worldwide condemnation, as “the desire of hundreds of thousands of individuals”.

“The folks residing in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia have gotten our residents. Forever,” Putin mentioned. “The present authorities of Kiev should respect the free expression of those folks and nothing else. Only on this method will there be a path to peace.”

As he spoke, Ukrainian forces pushed additional east into northeastern Donetsk, encircling the city of Lyman, a key staging floor for Russian forces.

Russia doesn’t absolutely management any of the four annexed regions and has vowed to “liberate” at the very least two of them from Ukraine’s grip as Kyiv presses its resistance.

Vladimir Putin with Russia's founding leaders
President Vladimir Putin, heart, with Russia-based leaders of four Ukrainian regions within the Kremlin on Friday © Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik/AP

Kremlin officers say Russia might think about additional Ukrainian makes an attempt to retake territory through the use of strategic nuclear weapons as an assault on its sovereignty.

Although Putin made no point out of Russia’s personal nuclear arsenal, which he threatened to make use of when he introduced the mergers final week, he accused the US of setting a “precedent” in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the finish of World War II. .

But a lot of the president’s speech turned in opposition to the West. It coated subjects as numerous as Western sanctions, European imperial historical past, crude jokes about sex-change operations and allegations that “Anglo-Saxons” attacked two gasoline pipelines within the Baltic this week.

As he cited Russia’s imperial and Soviet previous to grab Ukrainian territories, Putin issued a rallying cry for an finish to US hegemony by a Moscow-led “anti-colonial motion.”

Accusing Western elites of “colonialism” and “racism,” Putin mentioned, “They are dividing the world into their vassals and everybody else.”

“The West is searching for new methods to assault our nation, to weaken and destroy Russia,” he added. “They can’t tolerate such a big nation with its territory, wealthy pure sources and individuals who don’t dwell by different folks’s guidelines.”

Putin claimed that Russia had defeated a “blitzkrieg of sanctions” and warned that different international locations would face comparable sanctions.

“They thought they might rebuild the entire world. But it seems that not everyone seems to be so keen about this rosy future. All are masochists and followers of different unconventional worldwide relations,” Putin mentioned with homophobic sarcasm.

“We hear about Russia, China and Iran’s management. We anticipate Latin America and the Middle East to affix the record quickly,” he added. In the previous USSR “everyone seems to be on their facet – together with our neighbors”, lots of whom have distanced themselves from Moscow due to the conflict.

Putin expressed hope that the EU would assist Ukraine because it weathers a tough winter with out Russian power provides.

“Politicians in Europe need to persuade their residents to clean much less and warmth their houses. And when requested why they’re pointing fingers at Russia,” he mentioned.

“You can’t feed the folks with paper {dollars} and euros,” Putin mentioned. “You cannot heat folks up with puffed-up valuations — you want power sources.”

Additional reporting by Roman Oliarchyk in Kyiv, Henry Foy in Brussels and Felicia Schwartz in Washington

Vladimir Putin annexed four Ukrainian regions

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Vladimir Putin annexed four Ukrainian regions

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