Putin promises victory in Ukraine after annexation of new territories

Putin promises victory in Ukraine after annexation of new territories

“Victory will be ours!” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday after formalizing the annexation of four Ukrainian territories, prompting a chorus of international condemnation and boasting from Kyiv, which vowed to further liberate its country.

The Russian President addressed several thousand people who waved Russian flags at a celebratory concert in Moscow’s Red Square while his army struggled in Ukraine.

“Welcome home,” Vladimir Putin said to residents of the annexed Ukrainian territories, reiterating that Russia is opening “its heart” to them.

On the same day, a particularly deadly rocket attack killed at least 30 civilians in a Ukrainian-controlled area near Zaporizhya, southern Ukraine.

Shortly before the concert, during a ceremony in the Kremlin, Mr Putin signed the annexation documents along with the leaders of Ukraine’s separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (east) and Russian-held regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson (south).

In his speech, Mr Putin called on Kyiv to “cease all hostilities and return to the negotiating table”, despite the recent setbacks inflicted by Ukrainian forces on the Russian army, to which the encirclement part of the strategic city of Lyman (east) has been added since Friday by the Ukrainians.

Russian soldiers in Lyman, a key railway junction, are fighting “at the end of their strength” and the situation there is “difficult,” a senior pro-Russian separatist official, Denis Pushilin, admitted on Friday.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the “significant results” of his troops’ counteroffensive.

“We have significant results in the east of the country (…) Everyone has heard what is happening in Lyman in the Donetsk region. These are stages that mean a lot to us,” he said happily in his daily speech published on social networks.

He previously rejected any negotiations with Moscow while Vladimir Putin is President, while announcing that he would “sign Ukraine’s candidacy for accelerated NATO membership.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured in Washington that his country and Canada are in favor of this membership.

“We strongly support NATO accession for countries that want to join and can contribute their skills,” he said after an interview with Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly. But, he added, “there is a process for this and countries will continue to follow that process.”

US President Joe Biden has vowed to “support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory” and said the United States and its allies would not be “intimidated” by President Putin.

His White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said there would be “an announcement of immediate security assistance” to Ukraine next week.

– convictions and penalties –

EU leaders issued a statement on Friday “rejecting” and “condemning” this “illegal annexation”.

NATO condemned the “illegitimate” annexation, while the UN Security Council in New York considered a resolution condemning “pseudo-annexations” in Ukraine, which was immediately blocked by a Russian veto.

Apart from the Russian veto, the resolution received 10 votes in favor and four countries abstained (China, India, Brazil and Gabon).

In his speech in the Kremlin, Putin criticized the West, which he accused of wanting to preserve a “neo-colonial system that allows it to parasitize and plunder the whole world.”

These annexations come after a seven-month Russian offensive in Ukraine and urgently organized “referendums” in the occupied territories, which Kyiv and its allies have dubbed “simulacra”.

As a sign of this urgency and a degree of disorganization, the Kremlin spokesman announced that he had to “clarify” whether Russia was annexing all of Ukraine’s Cherson and Zaporizhia, or only the actually occupied parts.

Mr Putin swept away the critics, assuring that he “does not aspire” to restore the USSR. He also signed a decree facilitating access to Russian citizenship for foreigners conscripting into the army, a measure apparently aimed at recruiting migrants from the former USSR to work in Russia.

– Fatal Blow –

On the streets of Moscow, Ildar Babayev, a 38-year-old soldier, told AFP he found the annexations “enormous”. “It should have happened a long time ago, actually eight years ago,” he added during the first conflict between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists.

At least 11 civilians were found dead on a road in Ukraine the same day after Russian troops withdrew from a large part of Kharkiv region (northeast), killed by bullets, a team from AFP found.

Since the beginning of the offensive, Kyiv has denounced abuses by the Russian army, allegations that Moscow has systematically denied.

In an area still under Ukrainian control in the Zaporizhia region (south), one of the four areas annexed by Moscow, at least 30 people were killed and 88 wounded in a Russian attack, according to Ukrainian police. A pro-Russian official, in turn, blamed Ukrainian forces.

AFP journalists saw about fifteen cars with broken windows and at least three dead women on the ground. People were waiting here for permission to return to the areas under Russian control.

Reference: www.guadeloupe.franceantilles.fr

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