Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday announced the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine following the outcome of the referendums, according to which a large majority of locals wanted to sever ties with Kyiv.
By recognizing the free will of the residents of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, Russia has embraced the people who share its history and culture and repaired some of the injustices created by the Soviet Union and its destruction, Putin said. The Russian leader said that the inhabitants of the annexed Ukrainian regions will be our citizens forever. He added that people voted for our common future.
Ukraine intended for Russian speakers within its borders the same fate the 'colonial' West wants to inflict upon the entire world in its desire for hegemony, he added while ignoring warnings of Western governments and the UN, which question the legal validity of this annexation.
We signed today an agreement on the integration of these regions into Russia, Putin announced. While Soviet-era nostalgics praised the four regions' return to their historical homeland, Putin insisted that the USSR disappeared, the past cannot be brought back and Russia has no need for that today, we do not aspire to that.
Two tables had been set up in the hall for the signing ceremony. At one of them sat the heads of the four regions, who each took turns signing the document. Putin was seated at the other table - he approved the treaties on behalf of the Russian Federation.
After signing the documents, Putin called on Kyiv to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiating table. We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease fire, all hostilities, to stop the war that Kyiv started back in 2014, and to return to the negotiating table, Putin said.