Putin declares four regions part of Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced four regions part of Rusdia.

On Friday he presided over a ceremony of signing of documents with the leaders of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

“This is the will of millions of people,” he said in a speech before hundreds of dignitaries in the St George’s Hall of the Kremlin.

President Putin said he wants everyone in Kyiv and the West to hear that those in the Donbas region will become Russian citizens forever.

Kyiv authorities should “take this expression of will with great respect,” he said.

He stressed that Russia will protect its land with all the means it has “to provide safe living for our people.”

The ceremony took place three days after the completion of referendums, with majorities of up to 99% voting in favour of joining Russia.

He urged Ukraine to cease military action and return to the negotiating table. Kyiv has vowed to recapture all the lands.

The European Council, which brings together EU leaders, has said “we firmly reject and unequivocally condemn Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories,” which it said had no legal impact.

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