Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a law formalizing the absorption of four Ukrainian territories into the Russian Federation after the annexation was approved by both houses of Russia’s parliament.
The move means that the Russian-controlled areas in the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and the breakaway Donbas republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR & LPR) are now part of Russia in the eyes of Moscow.
The document signed by Putin said that Russia’s new borders in the regions will be determined by what borders “existed on the day of their formation and admission into the Russian Federation.”
Putin’s signing of the documents comes as Ukraine continues to make gains in its southern Kherson offensive. Over the past few days, Russian forces have retreated from areas in Kherson and also in eastern regions as Ukraine continues to mount counteroffensives.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked if there was a contradiction between Putin signing the documents and the reality on the ground in Ukraine and said that Russia would recapture the territory.
“There is no contradiction here. They will be with Russia forever, they will be retaken,” he said.
Russia is sending reinforcements into Ukraine after Putin ordered the mobilization of 300,000 troops but still hasn’t formally changed the label of its war in Ukraine from a “special military operation” to a full-scale war or counterterrorism operation.
When asked about a potential change in Russia’s military operation, Peskov said, “So far, no such decisions have been made. Only the continuation of the special military operation is on the agenda.”
The annexation means that Russia now considers Ukraine’s counteroffensives as attacks on Russian territory. Putin has reminded the West that Russia would use all of the weapons at its disposal to defend its “territorial integrity,” including nuclear weapons. Despite the risk of escalation, the US has shown no sign of backing down on its support for Ukraine.