Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony on Friday to formally annex four more areas of Ukraine after referendums that have been condemned by Ukraine and the West as a sham. Russian-backed officials had claimed the five-day exercise had almost complete popular support.
Votes were held in Luhansk and Sonetsk in the east and Zaporizhia and Kherson in the south. The event is very similar to the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, which also followed a discredited referendum and was announced by a presidential speech. The initial annexation of Crimea has never been recognized by a large majority of the international community. Parliament will have a role in ratifying the annexation. The US has said it will impose sanctions on Russia due to the staged referendums and the EU is considering an eighth round of measures. War is still continuing on the front lines in all four areas Russia wants to annex, it does not completely control any of the four areas.