At a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin, Russia will take additional lands from Ukraine.

In preparation for the ceremony, the Kremlin-installed governors of the four regions that appealed to Putin for annexation this week assembled in the Russian capital on Thursday.
Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons and promised the mobilization of tens of thousands of Russians to support Moscow’s troops in Ukraine, which sparked protests and a man exodus to other countries (AFP).

After Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to use nuclear weapons to defend the territory, Russia will cede control of four of the occupied regions of Ukraine at a lavish ceremony on Friday in the Kremlin, according to Moscow.

The Russian troops have been pushed back in the east by a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive, which has not been deterred by the threats. Lyman, a town in the Donetsk region that Russian forces pummelled for weeks before seizing it this summer, is now within striking distance.

Putin would make a “big” statement at the ceremony, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pskov, who also said that the annexation of the four districts would be formalized there.

Later, the Russian president personally attributed the war in Ukraine to the West and claimed that the fall of the Soviet Union was to blame for simmering problems across the former Soviet Union.

He made the now-famous claim that the dissolution of the USSR was tragic in his speech, and more recently he argued that Moscow should once again increase its influence in the former Soviet zone.

Soviet Union’s demise

In preparation for the ceremony, the Kremlin-installed governors of the four regions that appealed to Putin for annexation this week assembled in the Russian capital on Thursday.
After claiming that inhabitants had unanimously supported the relocation in hastily organized referendums that Kyiv and the West rejected as illegal, fraudulent, and worthless, they made their requests almost simultaneously.

Ukraine claimed that the only reasonable response from the West was to increase sanctions against Russia and arm Ukrainian soldiers with more equipment so they could continue regaining land.

Vice President Joe Biden the US stated on Thursday that “the United States will never, ever recognize Russia’s claims on Ukraine’s sovereign land.”
The annexation plans were also opposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who referred to them as “a reckless escalation” that “has no place in the modern world.”

It must not be approved, he insisted.

Following the Kremlin’s announcement of the date of the annexation ceremony, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky convened an “urgent” meeting of his national security council for Friday, according to his spokesman.\

The four regions—Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Lugansk in the south, and Lugansk and Donetsk in the east—create a vital land corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

Together, the five make up about 20% of Ukraine, whose forces have recently been making gains. The people of freshly retaken villages spoke of months of fear under Russian captivity as Ukrainian soldiers reclaimed ground near Kherson in the south.

In the village of Vysokopillya, Maria Syzhuk, 72, said, “They looted and humiliated us.” Her words echoed with the slow thuds of artillery from both sides, generally in the distance but occasionally a little too close.

As part of a stopgap budget extension, the Senate approved $12 billion in new economic and military help from the United States to support Ukraine.

New sanctions targeting Russian exports worth seven billion euros have been suggested by the European Commission, along with a restriction on oil prices, an enlarged travel ban, and asset freezes.

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