Russian President Vladimir Putin used a speech in Moscow on Friday to falsely announce that four Ukrainian regions are now part of the Russian Federation, a move that comes amid Moscow’s mounting battlefield setbacks in its war in Ukraine and its decision to call up tens of thousands of reservists. .
Putin claimed the illegal annexations were “the will of millions of people” to standing ovations during the signing ceremony at the St. George’s Hall of the Kremlin despite widespread reports of voter coercion and pressure on people at gunpoint.
The illegal occupation may increase the risks of Russia’s seven-month-old war in Ukraine because Putin has vowed to defend the annexed territories “by all available means,” a veiled reference to his insistence that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons if Russian territory was threatened.
Russia is incorporating Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions – which account for about 15% of Ukraine’s territory – after widely discredited referendums that reversed a similar move to annex Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
During his wide-ranging speech, Putin called on Ukraine to negotiate the war that started Russia and paraphrased a long list of complaints against the West, such as that it “doesn’t want us to be a free society” and wants Russia to be. “Colony”. His speech was full of historical inaccuracies about the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin also accused the United States and Britain of sabotaging Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
► The United States has imposed wide-ranging new sanctions on Russia in response, with President Joe Biden saying Putin’s action lacks legitimacy. “We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically,” the US president said in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to expedite the submission of his country’s application to join the military alliance.
To celebrate the founding, which Ukrainian and US officials have described as illegal and illegitimate, an evening concert is also expected on Moscow’s Red Square.
Overnight, the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office said that at least 25 people were killed after a Russian missile hit a convoy of civilian vehicles in Zaporizhia that was trying to deliver humanitarian aid.
►Western countries, including Canada, also imposed new sanctions on the Russian oligarchs, financial elites and officials installed by Russia in the occupied areas of Ukraine.
White House: Referendums in Ukraine ‘planned and rigged’
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described Russia’s illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine as a flagrant violation of international law and part of Vladimir Putin’s book of “Deception, Disinformation, and Aggression.”
“Based on our information, every aspect of this operation is premeditated and bogus,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Putin falsely announced that four Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine are now part of the Russian Federation after forced elections in those provinces last week. Putin vowed to defend the annexed territories “by all available means” – a veiled reference to nuclear weapons – and accused the West of “satanicity”.
Sullivan said Putin’s threats and “rattle of swords” in Ukraine posed a danger but that there was no indication of “the imminent use of nuclear weapons.”
Sullivan said Putin’s reference to Satanism amounts to “exaggerated rhetoric and shouting” and makes clear that he has no basis to justify what was essentially a “colonial and imperial land grab” in Ukraine.
“Instead of filling in any kind of logic or moral defense of what he did, he should resort to these kinds of silly arguments,” Sullivan said.
– Michael Collins and Joey Garrison
President Joe Biden said on Friday that the leaks in two natural gas pipelines between Russia and Europe resulted from a “deliberate act of sabotage.”
Biden told reporters at the White House that the United States and its NATO allies are working to find out exactly what happened to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.
Two underwater explosions were recorded in the Baltic Sea shortly before the leaks were discovered on Monday. European officials also said the explosions appeared to be the result of deliberate action, although it remains unclear who is responsible for the leaks.
Biden said the Russians were “pumping misinformation and lies” about the leaks, an apparent reference to Putin’s accusation of the United States and its allies of blowing up the lines.
Biden said the United States has already begun helping its allies protect critical infrastructure. “At the right moment, when things calm down, we will send in divers to find out exactly what happened,” he said.
“We don’t know that yet, exactly,” Biden said. But, “Just don’t listen to what Putin says. Because what he says, we know it’s not true.”
– Michael Collins
The Biden administration sanctioned 278 Russian lawmakers, 14 individuals closely linked to Vladimir Putin’s military on Friday after Putin announced he was declaring four regions in Ukraine.
US officials said that among the individuals under sanctions were two international suppliers, three key leaders of the Russian financial structure, and family members of top Russian direct officials.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the sanctions were part of a “strong and coordinated effort to hold Putin and his backers accountable for his unprovoked invasion, and to reduce their ability to support their economy.”
The Commerce Department also said it would sanction 57 entities that violate US export controls, and the State Department placed visa restrictions on Ushur Sog Mongush, a Russian citizen accused of torturing a Ukrainian prisoner of war.
The State Department also said it was taking steps to impose restrictions on a total of 910 personnel, including members of the Russian military, Belarusian military officials and Russian agents in Ukraine.
– Francesca Chambers
President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin on Friday that the United States and its allies would not be afraid of the Russian leader’s “reckless words and threats.”
“He won’t scare us, he won’t frighten us,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Biden’s comments came just hours after Putin falsely announced that four Ukrainian regions were now part of the Russian Federation and vowed to defend the annexed territories “by all available means.” Earlier, Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons if Russian territory was threatened.
Addressing his remarks directly to Putin, Biden said the world would never accept Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian provinces and that the United States and its allies were ready to defend “every inch of NATO territory.”
“Mr. Biden, Putin said, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: every inch.
– Michael Collins
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez said on Friday that the United States would not recognize Russian authority over Ukrainian territory.
We will demand accountability for the atrocities in places under illegal Russian occupation such as Bucha and Izyum. Menendez, DN.J. said. “We will never think of Putin’s delusional attempts to rewrite the map of Europe,” he said in a statement.
Menendez reiterated that Putin’s attempt to annex parts of Ukraine to Russia due to battlefield losses was pushing the leader to take more dangerous and desperate measures.
Congress was on the verge of approving legislation that would include an additional $12.4 million in Ukrainian aid, and Menendez pledged continued support.
– Francesca Chambers
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a video statement on Friday shortly after President Vladimir Putin announced that he had urged NATO to expedite his country’s application to join the military alliance.
“We are taking our decisive steps by signing Ukraine’s request for rapid accession to NATO,” Zelensky said in comments also posted on the social media app Telegram.
Ukraine granted “ambition” status to NATO in March, a month after Russia invaded Ukraine. All 30 NATO members will have to agree to Ukraine’s entry into the alliance, and this process usually takes years to complete.
At a press conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sidestepped a reporter’s question about whether it was now time to accept Ukraine’s entry into NATO, saying only that “unanimity” from current members was necessary to make this happen.
Ukrainian and Western officials have described the move as nothing more than a land grab and a desperate tactic by Putin to hide the mounting battlefield losses of Ukraine.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Only a few countries, such as North Korea and Syria, have recognized this annexation.
Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Lindsey Graham of Republika Srpska introduced legislation Thursday that would prevent countries that recognize Russia’s annexation of the four new regions from receiving economic or military aid from the United States.
The bipartisan couple is also pushing for legislation that would make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism because of its actions in Ukraine. Only four countries – North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran – She has an appointment.
– Francesca Chambers and Kim Helmgaard
Since Putin announced on September 21 that he was calling up reservists to fight in Ukraine, tens of thousands of men have fled Russia to neighboring countries such as Georgia, Kazakhstan and even Mongolia, where they can enter without a visa.
Some Russian media have claimed that the mobilization could allow the recruitment of one million people, although the Kremlin denies this and the Russian Defense Ministry says the real number is closer to 300,000. Some European countries such as Germany and Finland have taken steps to restrict entry of Russian citizens, citing concerns that not everyone who leaves Russia does so because they oppose Putin’s regime.
Military analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, believe Putin has been forced to press ahead with mobilization due to Russian battlefield losses for Ukraine at a time when Russia is running out of deployable forces. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that out of an initial invasion force of 190,000 Russian soldiers, the Russian army suffered about 80,000 casualties.
– Kim Helmgaard