ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine, Sept 30 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin proclaimed Russia’s annexation of a swath of Ukraine on Friday in a speech at the Kremlin but the event was overshadowed by one of Russia’s worst battlefield defeats of the war, with one of its main garrisons surrounded.
“People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever,” Putin told a crowd of officials in a ceremony in an ornate hall.
“We will defend our land with all our strength and all our means,” he said, calling on “the Kyiv regime to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiation table”.
Putin’s proclamation of Russian rule over 15% of Ukraine – the biggest annexation in Europe since World War Two – has been firmly rejected by Western countries and even many of Russia’s close allies. U.N. General Secretary Antonio Guterres called it an illegal violation of the U.N. charter.