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Putin hosts Kremlin ceremony to annex parts of Ukraine

Putin hosts Kremlin ceremony to annex parts of Ukraine
  • Condemning the Russian annexation of four regions around the world
  • UN Secretary-General: The move is a “dangerous escalation” that endangers peace
  • Zelensky says the war to end Putin must stop
  • Zelenskiy calls an emergency meeting on security and defense

Sept 30 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host a celebration on Friday to annex four Ukrainian regions, while his Ukrainian counterpart said Putin would have to be stopped if Russia wanted to avoid the most damaging consequences of war.

Russia’s expected annexation of the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia was widely condemned in the West. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was a “dangerous escalation” that would jeopardize the prospects for peace.

“It can still be stopped. But to stop it we must stop that person in Russia who wants war more than life. Your lives, citizens of Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech Thursday evening.

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The four regions cover about 90,000 square kilometers, or about 15% of the total area of ​​Ukraine – the size of Hungary or Portugal.

Russian government officials have said that the four regions will fall under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella once they are formally incorporated into Russia. Putin said he could use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory if necessary.

Ukraine said it would seek to regain its territory.

“Referendums have no legal value, under international law the territories are and will remain Ukraine’s territory, and Ukraine is ready to do anything to restore them,” Zelensky’s advisor Mikhailo Podolyak told Italy’s La Repubblica.

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“They were fictitious voices, in which a few people participated. For those who went to vote, pointed their guns at their faces commanding, ‘Vote!’ “.

An official said Zelensky promised a strong response to the annexations and summoned his defense and security chiefs for an emergency meeting on Friday where “fundamental decisions” would be made.

‘No legal value’

On the eve of the annexation ceremony in the Georgievsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace and a concert on Red Square, Putin said that “all mistakes” made in the recall announced last week, the first public admission of his existence, must be corrected. It did not go smoothly.

Thousands of men fled Russia to avoid enlistment, which was described as conscription with military experience and required disciplines but often appeared oblivious to the individuals’ service history, health, student status, or even their ages.

At Friday’s event, Putin will deliver a speech, meeting with leaders of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, as well as Russia-installed leaders for the Russian-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether Putin would attend the ceremony, as he did a similar event in 2014 after Russia announced it had annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.

A podium was erected in Moscow Square with giant video screens and billboards declaring that the four regions are part of Russia.

US President Joe Biden has said that the United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to Ukraine’s territory, denouncing the referendums.

“The results were made in Moscow,” Biden said at a Pacific Island leaders conference on Thursday.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pressed Putin to call for steps to reduce tensions in Ukraine.

“Any decision to go ahead with annexation … will have no legal value and merit condemnation,” UN Secretary-General Guterres told reporters.

fighting

The United States and the European Union are set to impose additional sanctions on Russia over the annexation, and even some of Russia’s traditional allies, such as Serbia and Kazakhstan, say they will not recognize the takeover.

What Russia considers a celebration comes after it faced its worst setbacks in the seven-month-old war, with the defeat of its forces in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.

Heavy fighting continues in the four disputed areas.

The region’s governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said that Russian forces launched a missile attack on a humanitarian convoy on a road outside Zaporizhia, killing and wounding.

Staruch said people were queuing to provide assistance to their relatives in Russian-controlled territory and to pick up their relatives when the attack occurred. The site was not specified.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

Some military experts say that Kyiv is preparing to receive another major defeat, as it gradually encircles the town of Lyman, Russia’s main remaining stronghold in the northern part of Donetsk province. Capturing it would open the way to the Luhansk region.

In the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said it had killed 43 Russian soldiers and destroyed two Russian Su-25 aircraft, four tanks, four heavy-caliber howitzers, two self-propelled guns and a reconnaissance drone.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Michael Berry. Editing by Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.