Putin declares ‘four new regions of Russia’ as Moscow annexes parts of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on the military-industrial complex at the Kremlin, September 20, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin On Friday, four new regions of the country were declared shortly after holding sham referendums in parts of occupied Ukraine.

“There are four new regions in Russia,” Putin said in a ceremony televised from the Kremlin in Moscow, according to a translation.

“The results are known, well known,” Putin said, referring to the series of votes that Ukraine and Western governments say violated international law. He claimed the results were due to the will of millions of people, saying they had the right to self-determination.

The territory seized more than seven months after the start of the Kremlin War consists of two pro-Russian “republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. It is thought to make up around 18% of Ukrainian land, although the precise details of the borders are not immediately clear.

Unsurprisingly, the votes, considered illegitimate by Ukraine and its allies, saw a majority of people vote to join Russia.

Echo previous claims that the West is trying to undermine Russia, Putin said, “The West is looking for new opportunities to hit us, and they have always dreamed of dividing our state into small states that will fight against each other.”

“They cannot be satisfied with this idea that there is this great country with all [these] natural wealth and people who will never live under foreign oppression,” he added.

His comments come shortly after a civilian convoy in the southern town of Zaporizhzhia was hit by a Russian strike, killing at least 23 people.

Members of the convoy were heading to Russian-occupied territory to pick up their loved ones, the city governor said. Moscow issued a statement saying the attack was carried out by Ukraine.

Nuclear threat

The war escalates

Moscow’s latest move is believed to be likely to escalate and prolong the war even further, making the search for a peaceful resolution more complex.

Changes to the Russian constitution in 2020, under Putin, mean it is illegal for Russia to cede any part of its territory to a foreign power, meaning it is unlikely to voluntarily cede territory to Ukraine.

All signs point to Putin having decided to up the ante in the war, after stepping up nuclear rhetoric and ordering a military mobilization that saw 300,000 reservists called up, many of whom are trying to flee the project, to be sent to fight in Ukraine with poor training and little equipment.

Putin announces partial military mobilization

Western nations have vowed to continue supporting Ukraine, repeating the mantra that they will do so “whatever it takes”, but there are fears that if the war drags on for months or even years, that support will fail. decreases ; there are already fears that the United States and Europe are out of arms to send Ukraine, which depends heavily on NATO weapons to continue waging war.

Meanwhile, Western citizens are dealing with the fallout of war in the form of rising energy and food prices, and may begin to pressure their own governments to rebuild their relationship with energy and wheat exporting giant Moscow to ease these pressures.

Putin has “opened a conflict that alters international politics, upends the world economy, remakes relations between East and West…as well as between West and global South…for years, even decades to come,” Eurasia Group Chairman Ian Bremmer said. a speech on Wednesday.

“This ever-expanding conflict was, and continues to be, one man’s design, but its effects have upended lives and livelihoods in every region of our still highly interconnected world.”

– CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this report.

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