Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws that claim the annexation of Ukraine’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions into Russia.
The documents finalizing the annexation were published on a Russian government website Wednesday morning.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call that “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia.”
Both Russian parliament houses voted to ratify the annexations following referendums in the four areas, which Ukrainian and Western officials rejected as a sham.
Russia claimed the annexed regions would have Moscow’s “full protection,” potentially hinting that nuclear weapons may be involved, reported Axios.
Last week, U.S. officials warned Russia about the “catastrophic consequences” of using those weapons.
“We have been very clear with the Russians publicly, and, as well as privately, to stop the loose talk about nuclear weapons,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
In recent weeks, Russia has faced mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more land in the east and in the south.
These areas are those that Russia has pushed to annex.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced a fast-track application to join NATO. He also formally ruled out talks with Russia.
Zelensky said that holding negotiations with Putin has become impossible after the decision to annex four regions of Ukraine.
The head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on his Telegram channel that “the worthless decisions of the terrorist country are not worth the paper they are signed on.”
“A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world,” he added.
Russia and Ukraine have been giving conflicting assessments of certain areas, including a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Russian-occupied Kherson region.
On Wednesday, a Russian regional official insisted that Ukrainian advances had been halted, but Ukrainian military said their flag had been raised above seven Kherson region villages.
Multiple explosions hit Bila Tserkva on Wednesday, said regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba.
It’s suspected that the city was attacked by “kamikaze” or suicide drones, which have become increasingly used by Russia in recent weeks.
Kuleba latter announced that a total of six Shahed-136 drones struck the city, which is about 50 miles south of Kyiv.