Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, announced on Friday that Russia is annexing four regions of Ukraine. Combined with the region it annexed in 2014, Russia now controls nearly 20% of the territory of Ukraine.
The Russian President has reportedly inked accession treaties formalizing Russia’s illegitimate territorial expansion to four occupied regions in Ukraine, a forcible conquest of territory in Europe since WWII.
The signing ceremony happened on Friday, in the Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, the Russian capital, attended by the Russian political elites.
During his extended, combative, and enraged speech that opened the signing ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use all of the forces and available means, including nuclear threats to defend the newly annexed territories.
Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, the newly annexed territories, together make up about 15% of Ukraine. Russia now claims and controls significant portions of about 20% of Ukraine, in addition to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, responded to Putin’s ceremony in Moscow by announcing in a video address from Kyiv that Ukraine was officially applying for accelerated membership in the NATO alliance.
The Ukrainian president also said that Ukraine would not engage in peace negotiations with Russia while Putin was in office.
The annexation by Russia has been condemned by Europe, the West, and Ukraine. The Russian annexation has generally been condemned as illegal by the international community.
A tweet from the European Commission states that “Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk are Ukraine. The EU does not and will never recognize this illegal annexation.”