NewsLast Minute: Russia will ratify the annexation of four...

Last Minute: Russia will ratify the annexation of four Ukrainian territories this Friday

Russian President Vladimir Putin will formalize on Friday at a ceremony in Moscow the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russia, widely denounced by the international community.

Ukraine, which has the support of Western countries, promised to continue its counteroffensive launched a month ago and with which it managed to push back the Russian army, forcing Putin to mobilize hundreds of thousands of reservists.

The ceremony in the Kremlin will ratify the annexation of four regions of Ukraine partly controlled by Moscow: Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.

“A ceremony for the signing of agreements on the entry of new Russian territories into the Russian Federation will be held tomorrow (Friday) at 3:00 p.m. (7:00 a.m. Mexico City time) in the Kremlin,” he told the press spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov.

“Vladimir Putin will deliver a speech” during the event, he added.

The Russian capital was preparing festivities to celebrate the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions, which takes place after the organization of referendums” on annexation.

Much of central Moscow will be closed to vehicles on Friday and according to Russian media there will be a concert in front of the presidency, during which Putin could make an appearance.

Officials installed by Russia in the four Ukrainian regions arrived by plane in Moscow on Wednesday night, according to Russian news agencies.

The same scenario as Crimea

Russia accelerated the process of annexation of these regions in the face of the important counteroffensive launched by kyiv.

Ukraine and Western countries have described these votes as “simulacra” and have already said that they would not recognize the annexation of these territories. Even China, a great ally of Moscow, called for “the territorial integrity of all countries” to be respected.

Russia follows the same scenario of the annexation in 2014 of Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine, also not recognized by the international community.

The union of these Ukrainian territories marks an escalation in Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Several Russian officials and commentators have stated that once these areas have been annexed and considered by Moscow as part of its territory, Russia will be able to use the nuclear weapon to “defend” them.

Putin declared last week that Russia was ready to use “all means” in its arsenal to “defend” its territory.

“Important fights”

Having recaptured most of the northeast, Ukraine appears to be preparing to try to recapture Liman, a city in the Donetsk region and a major railway hub that the Russian military has controlled since May.

Ukrainian forces are silent about the ongoing operations, but separatist authorities in the region have acknowledged the difficulty of the fighting.

“The enemy launches attacks to surround us,” Alexei Nikonorov, a senior Donetsk official, told Russian television.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US think tank, said “significant fighting” was taking place in the area. The reconquest of Liman would allow kyiv to advance both in the Donetsk region and in neighboring Luhansk, he added.

The Russians continued to bomb several Ukrainian cities. At least five civilians died in the part under Ukrainian control in the Donetsk region and a child died overnight in Dnipro (east).

“Better than killing people”

In Russia, the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists continues to reinforce the army, as well as the exodus of tens of thousands of Russians who feared being called up.

“It was very difficult to leave everything behind. My house, my homeland, my family. But it’s better than killing people,” a 20-year-old man, who arrived in Mongolia via the land border and preferred to remain anonymous, told AFP.

Faced with a sharp rise in arrivals from Russia, Finland, another Russian neighbor, announced that it will close its borders starting Thursday at midnight (4:00 p.m., Mexico City time) to Russian citizens holding a European tourist visa. for the Schengen area.

On the international front, leaks, caused by mysterious explosions, in the Nord Stream gas pipelines that connect Russia with Germany across the Baltic Sea are fueling tensions between Russia and the West.

Both sides accuse each other of sabotaging subsea pipelines, crucial infrastructure for Europe’s supply of Russian gas.

The pipelines, operated by a consortium controlled by the Russian giant Gazprom, are not operational due to the war in Ukraine, but they are still full of gas.

NATO said that the damage to these infrastructures had been “deliberate, irresponsible acts of sabotage”.

Target of Western suspicion for this alleged sabotage, Russia defended itself by singling out the United States and calling a UN Security Council meeting on Friday to address the issue.

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