Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced that Russia is annexing four regions of Ukraine.

In defiance of the international community and international law, Putin on Friday signed treaties to begin the process of absorbing parts of Ukraine into Russia.

The four regions being annexed are Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

Putin and the heads of the four regions of Ukraine put their names on treaties for them to join Russia. The action represents a sharp escalation in the seven-month conflict in Ukraine, which began on February 24 when Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine — dubbed as a special military operation.

The signing of these treaties came three days after the completion of Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia that were dismissed by Ukraine and the West as a bare-faced land grab, held at gunpoint and based on lies.

The separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine have been backed by Moscow since declaring independence in 2014, weeks after the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The southern Kherson region and part of the neighbouring Zaporizhzhia were captured by Russia soon after Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February.

Both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament will meet next week to rubber-stamp the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.

The four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia comprises around 15 per cent of Ukraine. Along with Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014, Russia now lays claim to —and controls large parts of— around 20 per cent of Ukraine.

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