International condemnation of Putin after formalizing annexation of Ukrainian territories

The Russian president delved into the conflict and recalled the "tragic fall of the USSR.” Meanwhile, Ukraine formally applied to join NATO.

Vladimir Putin formalized the annexation of the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia during a ceremony held at the Grand Kremlin Palace. After subjecting the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine to illegal referendums, the Russian president certified membership after receiving an average of 93% support among the four regions:

Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will now return to their rightful place as part of the homeland.

In his speech, Putin argued that the residents of these four provinces were "robbed of their native homeland" after "the tragic fall" of the USSR. He further argued that "the Kiev regime violently persecuted women and children for years." Following his statement, he threatened to defend "with all available means" the four annexed territories.

The Russian leader recognized both Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics in February. This Friday he signed the independence of the other two regions Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, to later join Russia. The four regions are potentially strategic and make up 15% of the entire Ukrainian territory.

On the other hand, Putin accused the West of implanting "Russophobia" around the world and of destroying the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea:

Western aggression knows no limits, as with the destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. We fight to make it clear that our people, our culture and our language will never be destroyed by others.

Voting at gunpoint

Despite the Russian regime's insistence that the referendum was conducted in a transparent manner, many of the refugees testified that forced voting was conducted at gunpoint.

The Russian Foreign Ministry assures that international observers were present and "in full compliance with the norms and principles of international law.” In addition, the Russian ministry celebrated the majority of support allegedly received:

The results of the vote have been tabulated, with the overwhelming majority of voters supporting unification with Russia.

"Farce" and international condemnation

President Zelensky formally applied to join NATO. Apart of this, he promised to take back the occupied territories and called the referendums held in the four eastern regions of the country a "farce":

This farce in the occupied territories cannot even be called an imitation of a referendum.

On the other hand, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned Russia's actions in holding the referendum and annexing four Ukrainian provinces:

Any annexation of the territory of a state by another state as a result of the threat or use of force is a violation of the principles of the UN Charter and international law, would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned.

Finally, the United States pointed out the invalidity of the referendums and will never give "legitimacy" to the results, as stated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken:

The Kremlin's sham referendums are a futile effort to mask what amounts to a new land grab attempt in Ukraine. The United States does not, and never will, recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham referendums or Russia's alleged annexation of Ukrainian territory.

On Thursday, Blinken already warned that the United States would not give legitimacy to the referendums:

The United States rejects the illegitimate and fabricated outcomes of Russia's sham "referenda" in Ukraine. This is a violation of international law. We stand in support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.