Friday, September 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed in a speech in Moscow that four Ukrainian regions were now part of Russia. This “annexure” occurs as Russian forces encounter significant setbacks in their war on Ukraine. Putin has also begun a forced conscription that is prompting droves of people to flee Russia.
The four areas claimed are Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. Combined, these regions make up approximately 15% of Ukrainian territory. Some feel that Putin’s struggling military campaign is prompting him to take “riskier and more desperate measures.”
Bob Menendez, the Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, commented Friday that America would not recognize Russian authority over these territories. He called Putin’s actions “delusional attempts to rewrite the map of Europe.”
During a signing ceremony at the Kremlin, Putin called these new land acquisitions “the will of the people.” In reality, these annexures are not legal, and people were reportedly coerced to vote for the measure, possibly at gunpoint. Yet the “incorporation” is expected to be celebrated with a concert in Moscow’s Red Square.
The unlawful occupation could be a significant turning point for the war in Ukraine. Putin has made it very clear that he will defend these territories with “all available means.” He has also made veiled threats recently that he would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons in the event Russian territory is threatened.
This activity generated new United States sanctions against Putin on Friday. These included measures against 278 Russian lawmakers and 14 individuals with close ties to Putin’s military forces. These parties consist of international suppliers, key Russian financial figures, and immediate family members of high-ranking Russian officials.
President Joe Biden stated the annexure was not legitimate and vowed that the United States would support Ukraine in reclaiming its territories. Other western nations, including Canada, have also imposed new sanctions on Russia. These measures focus on Russian oligarchs, other elites, and Russian officials stationed in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked NATO to expedite his nation’s application into the alliance. This request comes after 25 people were killed when a Russian missile struck a civilian convoy in Zaporizhzhia. The vehicles were attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance.