Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared Kherson and Zaporiza Oblasts in Ukraine to be independent states.
Reuters reported on the 29th (local time) that Putin signed a declaration indicating the recognition of an independent state as a preliminary procedure for annexing these regions to his territory. Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency reported that the announcement of the decree was published on the official online portal on the 30th.
The signature was made before the signing ceremony for the annexation agreement with the four Ukrainian provinces, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporiza and Kherson, to be held in the Kremlin on the 30th.
Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24 this year and occupied these areas. After the occupation, pro-Russian local governments in the four provinces – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporiza – which included personnel appointed by the post-occupation Russian authorities, recently passed a referendum on whether to annex Russia with an overwhelming majority of around 90%, and then President Putin asked for approval for the merger.
Western countries, including Ukraine and the United States, claim that referendums were rigged and that the forced annexation of territories occupied by war is invalid because it violates international law, including the UN Charter. The West is pushing for additional sanctions against Russia by holding them responsible for the annexation process.
Once the agreement to annex Russia and Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine is signed, the process of ratification by the Russian Federation Parliament and House of Representatives and the final signature of President Putin will proceed. Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Krm Peninsula in 2014 followed the same process.