Russian President Vladimir Putin held a ceremony on Friday to announce that Russia is annexing 15% of Ukraine, NBC News reports.
Putin declared the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zhaporzhizhia would be annexed into the country after they held sham referendums last week in the biggest land grab in Europe since World War II.
Putin said that Russia would use “all available means” to defend the four regions.
“This is the will of millions of people,” Putin claimed.
Putin also used the speech to accuse western powers of “satanism” and “colonialism.”
President Joe Biden and other Western leaders condemned the mov.
"The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory," Biden said in a statement. "Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere."
European leaders also condemned the annexation.
“We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions,” the members of the European Council said in a joint statement. “By wilfully undermining the rules-based international order and blatantly violating the fundamental rights of Ukraine to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, core principles as enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, Russia is putting global security at risk.”
The US also imposed what it called “swift and severe” sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation.
A Biden administration official told CNN that the sanctions target “additional Russian government officials and leaders, their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defense procurement networks, including international suppliers supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken vowed additional action.
“We will continue the United States’ powerful, coordinated efforts to hold Russia to account, cut Russia’s military off from global commerce and severely limit its ability to sustain its aggression and project power,” he said.