After the bogus referendums, which violate international law, Russia's President Vladimir Putin wants to make the annexation of several Ukrainian territories official this Friday. "A ceremony to sign agreements on the accession of new territories to the Russian Federation will be held at 3:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. CEST) in the Grand Kremlin Palace," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, according to the Interfax agency. Peskov also confirmed an appearance by Putin.
Internationally, neither the staged votes in the east and south of Ukraine nor the annexation of the occupied territories are recognized. In 2014, Moscow had already annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. Together with Crimea, almost 20 percent of Ukrainian territory is under Russian control.
According to Peskov, the four heads of the occupation administrations deployed by Moscow should also travel to the ceremony. At the same time, the Kremlin spokesman emphasized that this was not about Putin's speech to the Federal Assembly - i.e. the two chambers of the Russian parliament. This should take place later. The two chambers have already announced that they will decide on the annexations on Monday and Tuesday.
Around seven months after the start of the war of aggression, Moscow had held mock referendums on accession to Russia in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as in Cherson and Zaporizhia in the south. Accordingly, the Russian occupiers spoke of an allegedly overwhelming approval of sometimes even more than 99 percent. It was already expected that the occupation administrations would then officially apply to Putin for admission to Russian territory - and thus an unprecedented wave of annexations would begin.
The mock referendums are not recognized worldwide because they are held in violation of Ukrainian and international laws and without minimum democratic standards. Over the past few days, observers have pointed to numerous cases in which Ukrainian residents of the occupied territories have been forced to vote.