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New escalation in Ukraine: Russia annexes occupied regions

Vladimir Putin on Thursday night signed decrees paving the way for the occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be formally annexed into Russia.

On Friday, the Russian president is expected to sign into law the annexations of four Ukrainian regions – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – where Russia held fake referendums on joining it over the last week, IPN reports.

The plan to sign treaties on Friday annexing the territories in occupied Ukraine will mark a major escalation of Russia’s seven-month-old war. Putin said he is ready to defend those territories using all available means, indicating he would be willing to resort to a nuclear strike in order to avert Ukraine’s efforts to liberate its sovereign territory.

Ukraine and the West have denounced the votes as a sham and said they will never recognize the Ukrainian regions as being part of Russia.

“These referendums are fake. We do not recognize the referendums and their results. We further respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,” the President of the Republic of Maia Sandu said on the eve. She noted there is no information about such “referendums” in the eastern districts of the Republic of Moldova but what Russia does today in Ukraine goes against international law and this is a reason for concern.

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