Russia has controlled most of Kherson and 73 percent of Zaporizhzhia province in southern Ukraine since March.
The Kremlin said that the referendum votes had legal implications and also created security implications, hinting at warnings that Russia could use nuclear weapons to “protect its territorial integrity” after the annexation of Ukraine’s 4 regions.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called it a “farce”, while Western countries also considered the referendums “staged”.
The United Nations says it remains committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
The Kremlin announced that Putin would formally annex Ukrainian territories on September 30, following the referendums.
“Tomorrow in the Georgian Hall of the Great Kremlin, the signing ceremony for the annexation of new territories to Russia will take place at 15:00 ,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today.
“The agreement will be signed with all 4 territories that held the referendum and make corresponding demands to the Russian side.”
According to Peskov, the President Russia Vladimir Putin will give a keynote address during the event and meet with leaders of the annexed territories.
The Kremlin’s announcement came a day after pro-Russian authorities in 4 Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Donetsk and Lugansk in the east announced the results of a referendum showing that the majority of people chose to annex Russia.
The leaders of these 4 regions arrived in Moscow today to complete legal procedures.
These four territories cover 90,000 km2, occupy 15% of Ukraine and an estimated population of 4 million people. Russia does not yet fully control any of these provinces.
Donetsk and Lugansk are the two provinces that make up the Donbass Region of eastern Ukraine.
The two regions have been hotbeds of fighting since 2014, after residents organized an armed protest movement demanding autonomy and secession from Ukraine.
President Putin on February 21 recognized the independence of the DPR and LPR, then launched a military campaign in Ukraine to “liberate Donbass”.