President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced there are “four new regions of Russia” as he announced the formal annexation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
The four regions were partially seized by Moscow’s forces during a seven-month conflict with Ukraine Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and unrepresentative.
Putin also warned the West that the people of four Moscow-occupied Ukrainian regions were “our citizens forever”.
“I want to say this to the Kyiv regime and its masters in the West: People living in the Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia (regions) are becoming our citizens forever,” Putin said, adding that they had made a “unambiguous choice” to join Russia.