After holding referenda that many are calling a “sham,” Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially annexed 15% of Ukraine, a move Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin says “may have just changed the course of world history.”
Tensions surrounding the war in Ukraine have been steadily increasing in recent days, following the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, and Putin’s declaration on Friday that the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Luhansk are now part of Russia has raised the stakes even higher.
“The citizens of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhia, and Kherson have become our citizens forever,” Putin proclaimed.
The oblasts, or territorial subdivisions of the Russian Empire, represent 15% of Ukraine’s territory and will, according to the Russian leader, never be surrendered.
“There is no turning back, Russia will not let them down,” Putin vowed. “We shall defend our territory with all means available to us.”
“We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately stop fighting and stop all hostilities… and return to the negotiating table,” Putin stated.
“Understandably all eyes in the US are on the terrible destruction from the hurricane in Florida but what Putin just did illegally annexing parts of Ukraine may have just changed the course of world history, setting off a dangerous escalation with no off ramp,” Griffin tweeted following Putin’s speech.
Already, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made it clear that the United States has no intention of recognizing the “sham referenda.”
“The Kremlin’s sham referenda are a futile effort to mask what amounts to a further attempt at a land grab in Ukraine,” Blinken said in a Thursday press statement. “To be clear: the results were orchestrated in Moscow and do not reflect the will of the people of Ukraine. The United States does not, and will never, recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham referenda or Russia’s purported annexation of Ukrainian territory.”
“This spectacle conducted by Russia’s proxies is illegitimate and violates international law,” he continued. “It is an affront to the principles of international peace and security.”
In a statement from the European Council, the members accused Russia of “putting global security at risk” and also unequivocally denounced the “illegal ‘referenda.'”
“We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions,” the members wrote. “By wilfully undermining the rules-based international order and blatantly violating the fundamental rights of Ukraine to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, core principles as enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, Russia is putting global security at risk.”
“We do not and will never recognise the illegal ‘referenda’ that Russia has engineered as a pretext for this further violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor their falsified and illegal results,” the statement continued. “We will never recognise this illegal annexation. These decisions are null and void and cannot produce any legal effect whatsoever. Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukraine. We call on all States and international organisations to unequivocally reject this illegal annexation.”
“In the face of Russia’s war of aggression as well as Moscow’s latest escalation,” the council confirmed, “the European Union stands resolutely with Ukraine and its people.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zenlenskyy has signed an application for expedited accession to NATO.
In a Friday address, Zelenskyy stated Ukraine and NATO members are already “de facto allies”:
We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other. This is what the Alliance is. De facto.
Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure. Under a procedure consistent with our significance for the protection of our entire community. Under an accelerated procedure.
We know it’s possible. We have seen Finland and Sweden start accession to the Alliance this year without a Membership Action Plan.
This is fair. This is also fair for Ukraine. This is the consolidation at the level of the treaty of what has already been achieved in life and what are our values.
Zelenskyy declared Putin to be an “enemy not only of Ukraine, but also of life itself, humanity, law and truth.”
“We are completing the dismantling of Russian influence on Ukraine, Europe and the world,” he stated.
On Thursday, Zelenskyy took to Twitter to thank President Joe Biden and the Department of Defense for delivering another $1.1 billion to his war efforts as Americans in Florida are facing destruction from hurricane Ian.
“Today 🇺🇸@DeptofDefense announced a new $1.1 billion security support package for 🇺🇦. We’ll get 18 more HIMARS, other critical equipment that’ll bring 🇺🇦 victory closer,” he tweeted. “A very timely decision showing that Russian blackmail does not work. Gratitude to @POTUS & all our 🇺🇸 friends!”
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