Putin Signs Annexation of Ukraine Areas10/05 06:10
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws
formally absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, even as its military
struggles to control the territory that was illegally annexed.
The documents finalizing the annexation, carried out in defiance of
international laws, were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday
Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties
making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia.
That followed Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums" in the four regions that
Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.
On the ground, Moscow's war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous
phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and
more land in the east and in the south -- the very regions Moscow has pushed to
The borders of the territories Russia is claiming still remain unclear, but
the Kremlin has vowed to defend Russia's territory -- the newly absorbed
regions too -- with any means at its disposal, including nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the annexation by
announcing a fast-track application to join NATO and formally ruling out talks
with Russia. Zelenskyy's decree, released Tuesday, declares that holding
negotiations with Putin has become impossible after his decision to take over
the four regions of Ukraine.
The head of Zelenskyy's office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on his Telegram channel
shortly after Putin signed the annexation that "the worthless decisions of the
terrorist country (Russia) are not worth the paper they are signed on.
"A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world," he
Russia and Ukraine gave conflicting assessments Wednesday of a Ukrainian
offensive in the strategic southern Kherson region -- one of the four areas
that Russia is annexing.
A Russian-installed official in the Kherson region insisted that Ukrainian
advances in the region have been halted.
Kirill Stremousov, in comments to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti,
said that "as of this morning ... there are no movements" by Kyiv's forces. He
vowed that "they won't enter (the city of) Kherson, it is impossible."
However, Kyiv's military said Wednesday they have recaptured more villages
in the Kherson region as a part of their massive counteroffensive effort.
Operational Command South said that the Ukrainian flag has been raised above
seven villages previously occupied by the Russians.
Military hospitals are full of wounded Russian soldiers, and Russian
military medics lack medicaments, wrote Deputy Head of Kherson regional
administration Yurii Sobolevskyi on Telegram. After the condition of Russian
soldiers stabilizes, they are sent for further treatment in Crimea. "Not
everyone arrives," he wrote.
On the battlefield on Wednesday morning, multiple explosions rocked Bila
Tserkva, setting off fires at what were described as infrastructure facilities
in the city to the south of the capital Kyiv, regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba
said on Telegram.
Early indications are that the city was attacked by so-called kamikaze or
suicide drones, he said.
Bila Tserkva is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Kyiv.
Russia has increasingly been using suicide drones in recent weeks, posing a
new challenge to Ukrainian defenses. The unmanned vehicles can stay aloft for
long periods of time before diving into their targets and detonating their
payload at the last moment.
Many of the earlier attacks by the Iranian-made drones happened in the south
of the country and not near the capital, which hasn't been targeted for weeks.
In a later post, Kuleba said that a total of six Shahed-136 drones struck
the city, one of the largest in the region after Kyiv itself. One person was
wounded in the attacks.
Dozens of rescue workers were on the scene and still working to extinguish
the fires hours after the attacks were reported, he said.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least five civilians have been killed and eight
others have been wounded by the latest Russian shelling, according to the
country's presidential office.
In the Donetsk region, the Russian forces shelled eight towns and villages.
In Sviatohirsk, which was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces, a burial ground for
civilians was found and the bodies of four civilians were discovered, according
to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.