Putin Set to Annex Ukraine Lands Friday, Ignoring Criticism

Russia vowed to go ahead with the annexation of the parts of Ukraine that its troops currently control after UN-condemned votes, putting the Kremlin on a fresh collision course with the US and its allies.

Russia will sign treaties to absorb the four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine at a Kremlin ceremony at 3pm Friday, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on a conference call Thursday. Putin will also make an address to legislators and other officials, he said.

Authorities are planning a Red Square concert to celebrate Friday evening, though Peskov declined to comment on whether Putin will attend. The final formalities of annexation, which much of the world has said it will reject, are expected to be completed next week after legislative ratification.

Ukraine and its allies rejected the annexations, pledging to continue weapons supplies to Kyiv, which has said it will press its counteroffensive aimed at retaking the territories. 

“We will never accept any annexation of territory and land-grabbing by Russia,” European Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant said. “We are ready to make the Kremlin pay a hefty price for this new escalation in the conflict.”

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