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Ukraine war ― live: Zelensky applies to join Nato after Russia annexes 4 regions

‘They will be Russian citizens forever’: Putin declares annexation of Ukraine’s regions

Vladimir Putin has claimed Russia has “four new regions” in a speech in the Kremlin, before signing treaties to annex four Ukrainian regions, taking his war into an unpredictable new phase.

“This is the will of millions of people,” he told hundreds of dignitaries in the Kremlin. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for ever.”

At a ceremony that Kyiv called a “Kremlin freak show” devoid of legal meaning, the Russian leader accused the West of “sheer Satanism”, before the Russian-backed heads of the four entities chanted “Russia! Russia!” in unison and a standing ovation.

It immediately prompted Ukraine to apply for accelerated Nato membership.

Ukraine and Western governments said the referendums had been conducted at gunpoint and were bogus and illegitimate.

The United States and the head of the United Nations had all said the annexation ceremony would have no legal value.

Meanwhile, one of Russia’s main garrisons, in Lyman in eastern Ukraine, north of Donbas, has been surrounded, marking a potential big defeat for Moscow.

In Zaporizhzhia, at least 25 people were killed and 50 injured in a Russian missile strike on a humanitarian convoy.


We want talks - but with a new Russian leader, says Zelensky

Ukraine is ready for negotiations with Russia, but with a different Russian president, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to Nato,” Mr Zelensky said in a video on Telegram.

The video showed him announcing the decision and then signing a document, flanked by his prime minister and the speaker of parliament.


We will ensure Putin loses war, vows Truss

Britain’s prime minister has vowed to ensure Putin loses the war after Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian regions.

Liz Truss said: “Putin cannot be allowed to alter international borders using brute force. We will ensure he loses this illegal war.

“Putin has, once again, acted in violation of international law with clear disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people he claims to represent.

“The UK will never ignore the sovereign will of those people and we will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as anything other than Ukrainian territory.”


US announces new Russian sanctions

The US Treasury, Commerce and State Departments have announced new sanctions on Russia intended as what a White House official called “swift and severe consequences” for Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson:

A White House official says the new sanctions are meant to send a ‘clear message’ that the US and G7 will extract ‘costs’ from ‘individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support to Russia as a result of its illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory’


Ukraine applies for accelerated Nato membership

Ukraine’s president says his country is submitting an accelerated application to join the Nato military alliance.

Volodymyr Zelensky said: “We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine‘s application for accelerated accession to Nato.”

Ukraine was already de facto part of the alliance, he said in a video address outdoors.


Speech ‘fraud and disgrace’, says Boris Johnson

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has condemned Putin’s speech as “a fraud and a disgrace”.

“The world must never accept your sham referendums or your cruel and illegal attempt to colonise Ukraine,” he tweeted.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine and will support them without flinching until their country is whole and free.”


Russian stronghold surrounded in key move for Ukraine

One of Russia’s main garrisons has been surrounded, marking one of Russia’s worst battlefield defeats of the war, which threatened to overshadow the Kremlin’s annexation ceremony.

Pro-Russian officials acknowledged that Russian troops were on the verge of encirclement in Lyman in eastern Ukraine, their main garrison in the north of Donetsk province.

Defeat there could open the way for Ukraine to recapture swathes of the territory that Putin has now declared to be part of Russia.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said Russia would have to appeal to Kyiv for Moscow’s encircled troops to be allowed out of the stronghold of Lyman if it was concerned about them.


Ukrainian officials dismiss Putin’s claims

Ukrainian officials dismissed President Putin’s remarks, saying the future of Ukraine was being decided on the battlefield.

“We continue to work and liberate Ukrainian territories. And we don’t pay attention to those whose time to take pills has come,” said Andrii Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office.

“The army is working, Ukraine is united. Only moving forward.”


Kyiv condemns ‘Kremlin freak show'

Kyiv dubbed the annexation ceremony “Kremlin freak show” devoid of legal meaning.

After a 37-minute diatribe against the West, in which Mr Putin accused it of “sheer Satanism”, he signed the treaty documents with the Russian-backed heads of the four entities.

They then all clasped hands and chanted “Russia! Russia!” in unison with the hundreds of dignitaries present, who rose in a standing ovation.


Putin accuses US and allies of sabotaging gas pipelines

Putin directly accused the United States and its allies of blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines.

“The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage,” he said. “It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organised the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines.

“They began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure,” Putin said.

“It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it.”

Putin blames Anglo Saxons for ‘explosion’ of Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Atlantic Sea


Putin attacks West, accusing it of breaking promises to Russia

Presenting a long list of grievances against the West in his speech, Putin accused the United States and its allies of waging a “hybrid war” against Russia and the separatist administrations it backed in eastern Ukraine.

He said the West had broken its promises to Russia and had no moral right to talk about democracy, and that the countries of the West were acting as the imperialist states that they had “always been”.