Putin prepares to proclaim the annexation of the Ukrainian territory seized on Friday

  • Putin to sign annexation documents on Friday
  • You can attend the victory concert on Red Square
  • Ukraine and the West say annexation move is illegal
  • US EU sanctions will follow.
  • Ukraine threatens Russian gains on the battlefield

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin is set to sign formal documents on Friday proclaiming Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, as Moscow races to cement territorial claims that the Ukrainian military threatens to overturn on the battlefield.

The move, one of the legal steps Russia says will lead to the formal annexation of 15% of Ukraine’s territory, confirms that Putin is ramping up his war against Ukraine despite suffering a major military setback this month.

The annexation, after what Kyiv and Western countries say were sham referendums staged at gunpoint on Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory, has been rejected internationally as an illegal seizure of land captured in the war.

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Washington and the European Union are poised to impose additional sanctions on Russia over the plan, and even some of Russia’s closest traditional allies, such as Serbia and Kazakhstan, say they will not recognize the annexation.

The signing ceremony will be held in one of the Kremlin’s grandest halls with the pro-Russian figures Moscow sees as leaders of the four Ukrainian regions: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia says the referendums were genuine and show public support for the move.

After days of speculation about exactly how Russia would mark the annexation, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed some details of the ceremony on Thursday.

Agreements “on the accession of new territories to the Russian Federation” “will be signed with the four territories that held referendums and made corresponding requests to the Russian side,” Peskov said.

Putin would deliver a major speech on the subject, Peskov said. A huge rock concert is due to take place on Friday in Moscow’s Red Square, where a grandstand with giant video screens has already been set up, with billboards proclaiming “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!”

Peskov did not say whether Putin would make an appearance at the concert. He did so at a similar event in 2014 after Russia proclaimed that it had annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

What Russia presents as a celebration comes after Moscow has faced the worst setbacks of the war, with its forces defeated in recent weeks in the northeast.

Putin publicly backed annexation plans in a speech last week that also announced the call-up of hundreds of thousands of Russian reservists and threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory if necessary.

Some military experts say Kyiv is on the brink of another major defeat, gradually encircling the city of Lyman, Russia’s main remaining stronghold in the northern part of Donetsk province. His fall could open the way for Ukrainian forces to launch attacks on swaths of territory that Russia now seeks to annex.

The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament said the chamber could consider incorporating the four regions on October 4, three days before Putin’s 70th birthday.


Russian government officials have said the four regions will fall under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella once they are formally incorporated into Russia.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has tried to rally international support against annexation in a series of calls with foreign leaders, including those of Britain, Canada, Germany and Turkey.

“Thank you all for your clear and unequivocal support. Thank you all for understanding our position,” Zelenskiy said in a late-night video address on Tuesday.

The United States has unveiled a $1.1 billion weapons package for Ukraine that includes 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, accompanying munitions, various types of counter-drone systems and radar systems. The announcement brings US security aid to $16.2 billion.

The United States has also said it will impose new sanctions on Russia over the referendums and the EU is expected to endorse a new package of sanctions against Russia in the coming days.

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Reuters bureau reports; Written by Andrew Osborn; Edited by Peter Graff

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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