Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to annex four regions of Ukraine on Friday. About 40,000 square miles of Ukraine were declared part of Russia by Putin, which will turn residents into Russian citizens.
What does the annexation mean for the war?
Putin stated that the residents of four Ukrainian regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — will become Russian citizens “forever,” per NPR.
The annexation violates international law and is raising the stakes of the seven-month war, according to The Associated Press. Other countries are refusing to accept the annexation, which comes after Russia held referendums in Ukraine that were deemed a “sham” and universally dismissed by most Western countries.
“This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said before signing the decree, according to The New York Times.
What are world leaders saying about the annexation of Ukraine?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared the annexation a “farce” and promised that the entire country will be liberated from Russia, CNN reports.
President Joe Biden said on Friday that the U.S. “condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” according to NPR. The U.S. president criticized Russia for violating international law, and his administration also announced new sanctions on Russia Friday.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke out against the annexation. “It is a dangerous escalation. It has no place in the modern world. It must not be accepted,” Guterres said.