Putin signs decrees to recognize independence of 2 Ukrainian regions


Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed decrees to recognize the independence of two southern, partly Russia-controlled Ukrainian regions, in a move seen as an escalation of Moscow’s seven-month-old war against Ukraine.

With the decrees over Zaporizhzhia and Kherson immediately taking effect Thursday local time, Putin is preparing to sign a treaty later Friday that would formally annex them along with two occupied regions in eastern Ukraine.

Voting in what Western officials say are sham referendums to be used as a pretext for Russian annexation has taken place in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as well as Donetsk and Luhansk in the east.

Ukraine has condemned the votes while leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations issued a statement vowing they will “never recognize” the referendums or an annexation.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter that the referendums “can’t be called a genuine expression of the popular will” and that any annexation of a state’s territory by another state based on threat or use of force violates the U.N. Charter.

Putin’s popularity has fallen since Moscow decided to draft civilians into the military amid setbacks suffered by Russian forces in Ukraine. Large numbers of people have been fleeing the country to escape conscription.

According to a survey taken from Sept. 22 to 28 by Levada Center, an independent Russian polling research group, trust in Putin fell from 83 percent of respondents in August to 77 percent.

Those who said they did not trust him rose to 21 percent from 15 percent the previous month.




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