Vladimir Putin marks anniversary of annexation of Ukrainian regions

Vladimir Putin Marks Anniversary Of Annexation Of Ukrainian Regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin, © Sputnik
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By Susie Blann, Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that the residents of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Moscow a year ago “made their choice — to be with their fatherland”.

In an address released in the early hours to mark the first anniversary of the annexation, Mr Putin insisted it was carried out “in full accordance with international norms”.


He also claimed that residents of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions had again expressed their desire to be part of Russia in local elections earlier this month, in which Russia’s Central Election Commission said the country’s ruling party won the most votes.

The West has denounced the referendum votes carried out last year and the recent ballots as a sham. The votes were held as Russian authorities attempted to tighten their grip on territories Moscow illegally annexed a year ago and still does not fully control.

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Damaged houses in the Donetsk region (Alex Babenko/AP)


A concert was held in Red Square on Friday to mark the anniversary, but Mr Putin did not participate.

The address came after Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Friday that it would enlist 130,000 men for compulsory military service this autumn, beginning on October 1 in most regions of the country.

It announced it would for the first time begin enlisting residents of the annexed territories as part of its twice-yearly military conscription campaign.

Moscow says conscripts are not deployed to what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, or to serve in the annexed territories, but after their service, conscripts automatically become reservists, and Russia has deployed reservists to Ukraine.


In Ukraine, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell referenced the anniversary of the regions being “illegally annexed” by Russia in a video recorded during an unannounced visit to the Black Sea port city of Odesa on Saturday.

Speaking from the city’s Transfiguration Cathedral, severely damaged in a Russian missile strike in July, Mr Borrell reiterated the EU’s support for Ukraine.

“Odesa is a beautiful historic city. It should be in the headlines for its vibrant culture and spirit. Instead, it marks the news as frequent target of Putin’s war,” the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Meanwhile, the governor of Ukraine’s partly occupied southern Zaporizhzhia region, Yurii Malashko, said five people were wounded on Saturday in two missile strikes on the village of Matviivka, on the north-eastern outskirts of the regional capital, also called Zaporizhzhia.


Meanwhile, in Ukraine, air defences shot down 30 out of 40 Iranian-made kamikaze drones aimed at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Vinnytsia provinces overnight, the Ukrainian air force said.

Vinnytsia regional governor Serhii Borzov said air defences shot down 20 drones over his central Ukrainian region, but a “powerful fire” broke out in the town of Kalynivka when a drone struck an unspecified infrastructure facility.

Romania’s Ministry of National Defence said on Saturday that “a possible unauthorised entry” into its national air space occurred overnight amid the bombardment.

It said the radar surveillance system of the Romanian army detected the possible incursion into the national air space of the Nato member, with a signal detected towards the city of Galati, close to the border with Ukraine.


“At this moment, no objects have been identified that fell from the air space on to the national territory,” the statement read, adding that Nato allies were informed in real time and searches will continue.

Emergency authorities issued text message alerts overnight to residents living in the counties of Galati and Tulcea, after detecting what the defence ministry said was “groups of drones heading towards Ukrainian territory” near the border.

In recent weeks, Romania has found drone fragments on its soil from the war next door at least three times as Russian forces carry out sustained attacks on Ukraine’s Danube ports.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday that it had shot down nine Ukrainian rockets fired at its southern Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine.

Local officials in Russia’s Bryansk region, also bordering Ukraine, reported disruptions to power supply following an unspecified attack on the town of Pogar.

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