Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has declared four Ukrainian provinces as part of the Russian Federation after controversial referendum.
The annexation of the provinces was completed after he signed a document to officially annex the regions occupied by Moscow’s troops.
The Russian president urged Kiev to recognize the annexation of the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson, conducted after referendums a week ago that Moscow said showed an overwhelming majority in favour of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.
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Kiev and Western powers denounced the five-day vote, which ended on Tuesday, saying the results were a foregone conclusion that would never be recognised internationally. There were reports of residents being coerced into voting, sometimes at gunpoint.
As expected, Russia vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council condemning the Russian annexation as a violation of international law.
Ten countries voted in favour of the US-Albania-sponsored document in New York on Friday which also called on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine.
Four countries in the most powerful UN body with a total of 15 members abstained.
These were China, India, Brazil, and Gabon.
Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, criticised the vote on the draft resolution as a provocation and an openly hostile act.
Putin urged Ukraine to come to the negotiating table, in a bid to end the fighting that began when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, however, ruled out negotiations with Putin.
He said Ukraine is ready for dialogue with Russia, but only under a different Russian president.
He also said his country is applying for an “accelerated” accession to NATO.
“De facto, we have already started our path to NATO. Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure (legal),” Zelensky said in a video published on Telegram.