Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law to formally absorb four regions of Ukraine into Russia.
Documents finalizing the annexation, which was carried out in violation of international law, were published on the Russian government’s website Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified a treaty making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions part of Russia. It followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in four areas that Ukraine and the West rejected as a guise.

On the ground, Moscow’s war in Ukraine has entered a new and more dangerous phase. Russia faces more and more setbacks, and Ukrainian forces are recapturing more and more land in the east and south, the very areas Moscow is trying to annex.

Although the borders of Russia’s claimed territory remain unclear, the Kremlin has vowed to defend its territory by all means, including nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to the annexation by announcing an application for early accession to NATO and formally excluding it from negotiations with Russia. President Zelensky’s order, released on Tuesday, declares that negotiations with Putin are no longer possible after he decided to occupy his four regions of Ukraine.

The head of Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, said in his telegram channel shortly after Putin signed the annexation, “The worthless decision of the terrorist country (Russia) deserves the paper they signed. is not.
“A mass psychiatric hospital can continue to live in a fictional world,” he added.

The Kyiv army said Wednesday it had recaptured more villages south of Kherson as part of a larger counteroffensive. The South Operations Command said the Ukrainian flag was hoisted over the villages of Lyubimivka, Khreshenivka, Zolota Balka, Vilyayvka, Ukrainka, Velika and Mara Oleksandryvka.

Multiple explosions rocked Villa Tserkva on the battlefield Wednesday morning, setting fire to what it described as infrastructure in the city south of the capital Kyiv, regional leader Oleksiy Kleva said in Telegram.

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