Russia to Formally Annex Four Ukraine’s Occupied Regions on Friday

The Russian president Vladimir Putin will sign tomorrow a decree formally annexing four occupied regions in Ukraine, the Kremlin has announced as quoted by the Russian state-owned news agency TASS. The signing ceremony of the treaties on the entry of new territories into the Russian Federation will take place on Friday, the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said.

Peskov also announced that after the signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Putin is expected to give a major speech and meet with Moscow-appointed administrators of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

In preparation for the annexation move, billboards proclaiming “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!” emerged on Moscow’s Red Square.

According to reports in Russian media that Al Jazeera quoted, the Russian parliament may consider the annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions on October 4, three days before Putin’s 70th birthday.

The information was confirmed by Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the upper house, who said that the results of the referenda will be summed up during the scheduled meeting on October 4.

Separatist leaders from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics visit Moscow.
Photo credit: Kirill Stremousov

Branding the votes illegal, Kyiv and the West refuse to recognize the annexation while Washington is expected to impose additional economic sanctions on Moscow over the “sham” referendums, the State Department has said.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said additional measures are expected in the coming days to bring even more pressure on Russia and the individuals and entities that are helping support the land grab that amounts to more than 90,000 square km or about 15% of Ukraine’s total area.

That marks the largest forcible annexation in Europe since WW2.

Meanwhile, Ukraine will be getting 18 additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) as part of a new $1.1 billion military aid package under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) the Biden Administration has approved for the country, Pentagon officials announced Wednesday.

That means that HIMARS will be newly manufactured and shipped to Kyiv once finished instead of being taken from the preexisting U.S. weapons stocks.

The USAI package, which brings the security assistance Washington committed to Ukraine since February to more than $16.2 billion, also contains HIMARS-associated ammunitions, 40 trucks and 80 trailers to help Ukrainian troops transport heavy equipment, and 150 armored high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.