Putin announces annexation of Ukrainian territory, says Russia has 'four new regions'

Areas are Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south



By Reuters

Published: Fri 30 Sep 2022, 4:29 PM

Last updated: Fri 30 Sep 2022, 6:48 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday presided over a ceremony to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces, escalating the seven-month crisis and taking it into an unpredictable new phase.

"This is the will of millions of people," he said in a speech before hundreds of dignitaries in the St George's Hall of the Kremlin.

The regions are Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

The ceremony took place three days after the completion of hastily staged referendums in which Moscow's proxies in the occupied regions claimed majorities of up to 99 per cent in favour of joining Russia.

Ukraine and Western governments described those votes as bogus, illegitimate and conducted at gunpoint.

In a speech repeatedly interrupted by applause, Putin declared that Russia had four new regions.

He urged Ukraine to cease military action and return to the negotiating table. Kyiv has vowed to recapture all the lands seized by Russia and said that Russia's decision to annex the territories had destroyed any prospect of talks.

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