On Monday, Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, unanimously approved a measure to formalize the absorption of the Russian-controlled territories of Ukraine.
Russia is annexing areas it controls in the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and the breakaway Donbas republics on Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) following referendums.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on the annexation on Friday, but both houses of Russia’s parliament need to ratify the treaties. Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, could approve the annexation plan as soon as Tuesday.
Under the law passed by the State Duma, all people living in the territories are recognized as Russian citizens starting on September 30. According to Tass, the DPR and LPR will maintain their status as republics, and their official language will be Russian.
Exactly where Russia will set its new border is not clear as Moscow does not control all of the regions it’s annexing. Russia currently controls the vast majority of Luhansk but only a little more than half of Donetsk. Putin and other Russian officials have made clear that they plan on capturing at least the rest of Donetsk.
The annexation brings the war in Ukraine into a dangerous new phase as Moscow will now consider the Ukrainian counteroffensive as attacks on Russian territory. But despite Putin’s warning that Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its “territorial integrity,” the US and NATO show no sign of backing down on their support for Ukraine.