The Russian Parliament ratifies the law on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions | War in Ukraine
Before the vote, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov delivered a plea for the defense of the Russian fatherland to the deputies of the Duma. (Archives)
Russian MPs on Monday unanimously approved the law on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, a decision announced by President Vladimir Putin on Friday that has drawn a shower of international condemnation.
Deputies of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, all voted in favor of annexing the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, according to the live broadcast of the voting ceremony at the Russian television.
No abstentions or votes against were recorded.
President Vladimir Putin signed the annexation of the four Ukrainian territories last Friday in a ceremony in the Kremlin, alongside the pro-Russian leaders of these regions, partly or almost entirely occupied by Moscow.
Ukraine retaliated by asking for “fast track membership” to NATO and saying it would not negotiate with Moscow as long as Vladimir Putin is president.< /p>
A few minutes before the vote in Parliament, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov addressed the deputies, asking them to support the law, which he said was supposed to protect Russian culture, language and borders.
We are not responding to imaginary threats, we are defending our borders, our homeland and our people, he told the deputies.
The referendums organized by Russia in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have been the subject of several international criticisms.
Russia will consult the population to establish the borders of the annexed regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia in southern Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
We will continue to consult the people of these regions, said Mr. Peskov, when asked whether Russia was annexing all of these regions or only the parts it occupies.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions were annexed in their entirety, as Moscow recognized the sovereignty of pro-Russian separatist regimes in late February, just before the Russian assault on Ukraine. But the Kremlin indicated last week that the borders of the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions needed to be clarified.
According to the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Moscow controls 72% of the Zaporizhia region. Also, some 88% of Kherson, as well as its capital of the same name, is under Russian occupation, according to the same source.
After regaining full control of the strategic city of Lyman in a counteroffensive that reshaped the war, Ukrainian troops continued their offensive in the strategic southern Kherson region on Monday, reporting new gains, according to Ukrainian officials from foreign observers.
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M. Lavrov also accused the United States of rallying all Western countries to support kyiv against Moscow.
“The United States has subjugated almost the entire collective West, mobilizing it to turn Ukraine into an instrument of war against Russia.
—Sergei Lavrov, head of Russian diplomacy
The annexations of these Ukrainian regions come after seven months of Russian offensive in Ukraine and emergency referendums in the occupied regions, which have been denounced as shams by kyiv and its allies.
Russia already annexed Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine, in 2014.
The countries of the x27;European Union (EU) began Friday to summon Russian diplomats after the signature by Russian President Vladimir Putin to condemn and reject this illegal annexation.
Belgium had summoned the x27;Russian Ambassador Friday. Italy and Austria followed suit on Monday.
While EU leaders hammered home they would never recognize the redistricting of the territory led by Moscow, the 27 are finalizing new sanctions.
With information from Agence France-Presse, and Associated Press