MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin was to host a ceremony in the Kremlin on Friday to formally annex four regions of Ukraine, but his Ukrainian counterpart said Russia needs to avoid the worst effects of the conflict. Putin needs to stop. UN chief Antonio Guterres also issued a warning, calling the proposed annexations a "dangerous escalation" that jeopardizes the prospects for peace.
Despite a significant setback on the battlefield this month and unrest in Russia over the widely criticized "partial mobilization" of thousands more men to fight in Ukraine, Putin continued the offensive he planned in February Is. The Battle of Ukraine is referred to by Russia as "Special Operations".
In a speech on Thursday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, "The cost of one person in Russia is wanting to continue this war that leaves Russian society without a normal economy, a meaningful life or any respect for human values." will be given."
It is still reversible. But to stop it, we must confront the Russian man who values war the most. Your life, Russian citizen," commented Zelensky, who previously claimed that Ukraine had reacted "too harshly" to Russia's recognition of the alleged referendum results.
Ukraine and Western countries claimed that fake elections were held under pressure in the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, with Moscow planning to annex the eastern and southern provinces. More than 90,000 square kilometers, or about 15 percent of Ukraine's total area, is under Russian control; This is an area larger than Hungary or Portugal.
Putin took the arbitrarily step of signing the decree on Thursday, in order to officially unite Kherson and Zaporizhzhya in Russia. The Kremlin made the decree available to the public.
Zelensky had promised a strong response to the annexation, according to an official, who called on Friday his defense and security chiefs to an urgent meeting where "substantive decisions" would be made.
Putin said "all mistakes" made in the call-up announced last week should be corrected on the eve of a planned ceremony in the Georgievsky Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace and a concert in Red Square, his first public The admission was that it had not gone smoothly.
Thousands of men have left Russia to escape a draft that was supposed to bring in people with the required specialties and military experience, but often without regard to people's service records, health, school enrollment, or even age. seemed unrelated.
According to Russia, the referendum, which reportedly asked residents of the four regions whether they wanted to be part of Russia, was valid and demonstrated widespread support.
Putin will speak at the event on Friday and meet with leaders of the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DNR and LNR), as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, which have been occupied by Russian forces.
Putin attended a concert at the same venue in 2014 after Russia announced the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether he would attend a Red Square concert this time.
On Moscow Square, a stage has been set up with huge video screens and billboards declaring the four regions to be part of Russia.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that any decision to go ahead with the merger "would have no legal value and should be condemned."
US Vice President Joe Biden criticized the referendum and said the US would never recognize Russia's territorial claims in Ukraine. At a gathering of leaders of Pacific island nations on Thursday, Biden claimed that "the results were produced in Moscow."
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged Putin to take action to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.
Russian government officials have said that once the four regions are formally incorporated into Russia, they will be subject to Moscow's nuclear dominance. Putin has said that if necessary, he will defend Russian territory with nuclear weapons.
In response to the merger plan, Washington and the European Union are preparing to impose additional sanctions on Russia. Even some of Russia's closest traditional allies, such as Serbia and Kazakhstan, have said they will not recognize the action.
Moscow is being portrayed as a celebration, when Moscow, suffering one of the worst defeats of the war, moved its forces into the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.
The four disputed regions still face intense fighting, especially in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Compared to the Kharkiv region, our situation is more challenging. Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, stated on Thursday that there was no element of surprise present. "They (the Ukrainian Armed Forces) are making progress. And I'm hoping that soon we'll hear some excellent news.
According to some military analysts, Kyiv is about to inflict another significant defeat by gradually encircling the town of Lyman, which is the main remaining stronghold of Russia in the northern part of the Donetsk province.
"The challenge for us still lies in this area" (Lyman). Allied forces are maintaining their position. And given that there will be reinforcements, I think we will succeed there," Donetsk People's Republic leader Denis Pushilin said on Telegram.