Ukraine war ― live: Zelensky applies to join Nato after Russia annexes 4 regions

Vladimir Putin has claimed Russia has “four new regions” in a speech in the Kremlin, before signing treaties to annex four Ukrainian regions, taking his war into an unpredictable new phase.

“This is the will of millions of people,” he told hundreds of dignitaries in the Kremlin. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for ever.”

At a ceremony that Kyiv called a “Kremlin freak show” devoid of legal meaning, the Russian leader accused the West of “sheer Satanism”, before the Russian-backed heads of the four entities chanted “Russia! Russia!” in unison and a standing ovation.

It immediately prompted Ukraine to apply for accelerated Nato membership.

Ukraine and Western governments said the referendums had been conducted at gunpoint and were bogus and illegitimate.

The United States and the head of the United Nations had all said the annexation ceremony would have no legal value.

Meanwhile, one of Russia’s main garrisons, in Lyman in eastern Ukraine, north of Donbas, has been surrounded, marking a potential big defeat for Moscow.

In Zaporizhzhia, at least 25 people were killed and 50 injured in a Russian missile strike on a humanitarian convoy.

Key Points

  • Putin claims four Ukrainian regions now Russian in annexation ceremony

  • Attack on annexed regions would be attack on Russia, Kremlin says

  • Over 20 killed in Russian strike on civilian convoy in Ukraine

  • Images from deadly Russian strike on civilian convoy

  • Putin recognises independence of two Ukrainian regions

  • 43 Russian soldiers killed, two fighter jets downed - Ukraine

We want talks - but with a new Russian leader, says Zelensky

16:05 , Jane Dalton

Ukraine is ready for negotiations with Russia, but with a different Russian president, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

He made his comments in a video that appeared intended as a forceful rebuttal to the Kremlin after Putin’s ceremony in Moscow.

“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to Nato,” Mr Zelensky said in a video on Telegram.

The video showed him announcing the decision and then signing a document, flanked by his prime minister and the speaker of parliament.

We will ensure Putin loses war, vows Truss

15:50 , Jane Dalton

Britain’s prime minister has vowed to ensure Putin loses the war after Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian regions.

Liz Truss said: “Putin cannot be allowed to alter international borders using brute force. We will ensure he loses this illegal war.

“Putin has, once again, acted in violation of international law with clear disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people he claims to represent.

“The UK will never ignore the sovereign will of those people and we will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as anything other than Ukrainian territory.”

US announces new Russian sanctions

15:35 , Jane Dalton

The US Treasury, Commerce and State Departments have announced new sanctions on Russia intended as what a White House official called “swift and severe consequences” for Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson:

US announces new sanctions after Russia claims to have annexed parts of Ukraine

Ukraine applies for accelerated Nato membership

15:21 , Jane Dalton

Ukraine’s president says his country is submitting an accelerated application to join the Nato military alliance.

Volodymyr Zelensky said: “We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine‘s application for accelerated accession to Nato.”

Ukraine was already de facto part of the alliance, he said in a video address outdoors.

Speech ‘fraud and disgrace’, says Boris Johnson

15:11 , Jane Dalton

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has condemned Putin’s speech as “a fraud and a disgrace”.

“The world must never accept your sham referendums or your cruel and illegal attempt to colonise Ukraine,” he tweeted.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine and will support them without flinching until their country is whole and free.”

Russian stronghold surrounded in key move for Ukraine

15:00 , Jane Dalton

One of Russia’s main garrisons has been surrounded, marking one of Russia’s worst battlefield defeats of the war, which threatened to overshadow the Kremlin’s annexation ceremony.

Pro-Russian officials acknowledged that Russian troops were on the verge of encirclement in Lyman in eastern Ukraine, their main garrison in the north of Donetsk province.

Defeat there could open the way for Ukraine to recapture swathes of the territory that Putin has now declared to be part of Russia.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said Russia would have to appeal to Kyiv for Moscow’s encircled troops to be allowed out of the stronghold of Lyman if it was concerned about them.

Ukrainian officials dismiss Putin’s claims

14:45 , Jane Dalton

Ukrainian officials dismissed President Putin’s remarks, saying the future of Ukraine was being decided on the battlefield.

“We continue to work and liberate Ukrainian territories. And we don’t pay attention to those whose time to take pills has come,” said Andrii Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office.

“The army is working, Ukraine is united. Only moving forward.”

Kyiv condemns ‘Kremlin freak show'

14:35 , Jane Dalton

Kyiv dubbed the annexation ceremony “Kremlin freak show” devoid of legal meaning.

After a 37-minute diatribe against the West, in which Mr Putin accused it of “sheer Satanism”, he signed the treaty documents with the Russian-backed heads of the four entities.

They then all clasped hands and chanted “Russia! Russia!” in unison with the hundreds of dignitaries present, who rose in a standing ovation.

Putin accuses US and allies of sabotaging gas pipelines

14:28 , Jane Dalton

Putin directly accused the United States and its allies of blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines.

“The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage,” he said. “It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organised the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines.

“They began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure,” Putin said.

“It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it.”

Putin attacks West, accusing it of breaking promises to Russia

14:22 , Jane Dalton

Presenting a long list of grievances against the West in his speech, Putin accused the United States and its allies of waging a “hybrid war” against Russia and the separatist administrations it backed in eastern Ukraine.

He said the West had broken its promises to Russia and had no moral right to talk about democracy, and that the countries of the West were acting as the imperialist states that they had “always been”.

Putin’s speech: ‘We will defend out land with all our means'

14:20 , Jane Dalton

These are extracts from President Putin’s speech, translated by Reuters:

“Referendums have taken place ... their results are well-known.”

“People have made their choice ... This is an inalienable right, which is enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter.”

“People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for ever.”

“We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiation table.”

“We will defend our land with all our strength and all our means”.

“After the collapse of the USSR, the West decided that the world would forever have to put up with its dictates ... the West expected that Russia would not be able to cope with such dictates and fall apart ... but Russia has been reborn and strengthened.”

“The West continues to look for new chances to weaken and destroy Russia.”

Citizens will be Russian for ever, claims Putin

13:56 , Jane Dalton

Vladimir Putin told the top politicians gathered in the Kremlin: “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for ever.”

He claimed the people of the four annexed regions had chosen to “be with their people, the motherland”.

Putin denounces ‘satanism’ of West and calls on Ukraine to lay down arms

13:49 , Jane Dalton

Vladmir Putin has declared there are “four new regions of Russia” as he presided over a ceremony in the Kremlin to announce Moscow was claiming the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson.

In a rambling speech, Putin called on Ukraine to lay down its arms and end a war “they began in 2014”. David Harding reports:

Putin says ‘there are four new regions of Russia’ as he announces annexation

Russia has four new regions, Putin claims at annexation event

13:37 , Jane Dalton

Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia has “four new regions” in a speech in the Kremlin in which he outlined Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

“Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine” are part of one people, the Russian president claimed.

And he urged Ukraine to sit down for talks but warned that Moscow would not give up the newly incorporated regions.

In a speech from the Kremlin to hundreds of Russia’s top politicians, Putin said Russia would defend its new territory with all the means at its disposal, remarks that could signal an escalation in the conflict.

As he signed the documents, he declared it was “the will of the people”.

Putin opens annexation ceremony

13:31 , Jane Dalton

Vladimir Putin has opened a Kremlin ceremony to start the process of absorbing parts of Ukraine into Russia, defying international law.During the annexation ceremony in the Kremlin’s opulent white-and-gold St George’s Hall, the heads of the four regions of Ukraine will sign treaties for them to join Russia, in a sharp escalation of the seven-month conflict.The separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine have been backed by Moscow since declaring independence in 2014, weeks after the annexation of Ukraine‘s Crimean Peninsula.

The southern Kherson region and part of the neighboring Zaporizhzhia were captured by Russia soon after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on 24 February.Both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament will meet next week to rubber-stamp the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.

Ukraine 'encircling Russian units in Lyman stronghold’

13:08 , Jane Dalton

A Ukrainian military operation is under way to encircle Russian forces in the area of the eastern stronghold of Lyman, and has all the logistics routes into the area under fire control, a military spokesperson has told the Suspilne public broadcaster.

“All the approaches and logistic routes of the enemy, through which they delivered ammunition and manpower, are in fact under fire control (of the Ukrainian army),” Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for eastern Ukrainian forces was quoted as saying.

Abducted, beaten, tortured: The Ukrainians who refused to vote

12:41 , Jane Dalton

Ukrainians have told how pensioners and other residents were abducted at gunpoint from their homes, held in solitary confinement and tortured for refusing to vote in Russia’s referendums.

Volunteers with pro-referendum leaflets physically dragged people to polling stations, they said.

“Gunmen came to my house and arrested me and took me to a solitary confinement cell in a detention centre for three days,” says Olena, a 70-year-old woman.

Networks of “informers” reported to the occupying forces any citizens believed to be against annexation. Report by Bel Trew:

Abducted and beaten: The fate of Ukrainians who did not vote in Russia’s referendums

What are the four regions set to be annexed by Russia?

12:08 , Zoe Tidman

Russia is set to formally annex four areas of southern and eastern Ukraine.

The regions - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - make up around 15 per cent of Ukraine’s land area.

Here is a look at where they are:

The four Ukrainian regions, in yellow, that Russia annexed in September 2022 (Independent)
The four Ukrainian regions, in yellow, that Russia annexed in September 2022 (Independent)

And is some more informations on the four regions:

The Donbas: Donetsk and Luhank

Two Russian-backed breakaway entities - the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic - have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since 2014.

Vladimir Putin recognised both as “independent states”.

With these two proxy authorities, Russia controls nearly all of the Ukrainian Luhansk region but only about 60 per cent of Donetsk.

The two regions, with a combined population of about six million before the invasion, are collectively known as the Donbas, a mostly Russian-speaking centre of coal mining and heavy industry until their economies were wrecked by the fighting from 2014 onwards.

The Kremlin said this week that what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine would continue at least until the full “liberation” of the Donetsk region.

A firefighter reacts during extinguishing a fire after a flat was hit by a missile strike in Donetsk (AFP via Getty Images)
A firefighter reacts during extinguishing a fire after a flat was hit by a missile strike in Donetsk (AFP via Getty Images)

Kherson

Kherson, with a pre-war population of only a million, lies just north of Russian-annexed Crimea, and Russian forces control almost the entire region.

Kherson is the focus of a counter-offensive that Ukraine has been building for weeks, in part by bombing bridges over the Dnipro River to sever Russia’s supply lines and attempt to cut off some of its forces.

Civilians in Kherson staged a series of protests after Russia captured the regional capital, the city of Kherson, in the early days of the war, and pro-Russian officials have been the targets of bomb attacks.

Russia has also said it is incorporating the small portion of Ukraine’s adjoining Mykolayiv province that it occupies into the Kherson region, for the purposes of annexation.

Zaporizhzhia

Zaporizhzhia became the centre of world attention after fighting in the vicinity of its nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, disrupted power supplies to the facility and raised fears of a radiation disaster.

Russia controls the nuclear plant and roughly 70 per cent of the province as a whole - but not the regional capital, also called Zaporizhzhia, which accounted for about half the region’s pre-war population of 1.6 million.

A man stands next to a crater left by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia last week (REUTERS)
A man stands next to a crater left by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia last week (REUTERS)

Attack on annexed regions would be attack on Russia, Kremlin says

11:49 , Zoe Tidman

The Kremlin has warned it would consider an attack by Ukraine on regions set to be annexed an attack against Russia itself.

“It would not be anything else,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, said.

It came as Ukraine and the West refused to recognise the annexation of four regions in Ukraine that was set to go ahead on Friday.

Dmitry Peskov says Russia would consider an attack on annexed regions an attack on Russia itself (via REUTERS)
Dmitry Peskov says Russia would consider an attack on annexed regions an attack on Russia itself (via REUTERS)

Finland closes border to Russians with tourist visas

11:50 , Zoe Tidman

Finland’s border with Russia has closed to Russians with tourist visas, curtailing one of the last easily accessible routes to Europe for Russians trying to flee military mobilisation.

Long queues were reported until midnight at the border crossings.

Among the last to enter Finland were two cyclists who arrived a little before 11 pm, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

AP

Convoy strike death toll rises

10:53 , Zoe Tidman

The death toll of the Russian strike on a civilian convoy in southern Ukraine is reported to have risen.

The general prosecutor’s office said 25 people were killed and 50 wounded in the attack in Zaporizhzhia.

Full story: Putin set to formally annex four regions today

10:30 , Zoe Tidman

Vladimir Putin is set to formally announce the annexation of four regions in Ukraine as Western leaders insist they will refuse to consider them part of Russian territory.

He is expected to declare Russia has absorbed areas of eastern and southern Ukraine on Friday following referendums considered a sham by Kyiv and beyond.

Putin to formally annex Ukrainian regions as West vows to never recognise move

Images from deadly Russian strike on civilian convoy

09:56 , Zoe Tidman

Images are now coming out of the deadly Russian strike on a civilian convoy in southeastern Ukraine.

At least 23 people were killed in the attack on vehicles in Zaporizhzhia, which is set to officially be declared as part of Russia later today.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said four Russian missiles struck a car market as well as an area where civilians had gathered leaving to pick up relatives.

A police officer covers stands next to a van damaged by the Russian missile strike (REUTERS)
A police officer covers stands next to a van damaged by the Russian missile strike (REUTERS)
At least 23 were killed in the strike in southeastern Ukraine (REUTERS)
At least 23 were killed in the strike in southeastern Ukraine (REUTERS)
A crater was eft by a Russian missile strike that hit a convoy of civilian vehicles in Ukraine (REUTERS)
A crater was eft by a Russian missile strike that hit a convoy of civilian vehicles in Ukraine (REUTERS)

Annexation ‘breach of international law’, UK PM says

09:37 , Zoe Tidman

Liz Truss has accused Vladimir Putin of breaching international law, as the Russian President plans to formally annex four Ukrainian regions.

In a statement, the Prime Minister said: “Vladimir Putin has, once again, acted in violation of international law with clear disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people he claims to represent.

“The UK will never ignore the sovereign will of those people and we will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as anything other than Ukrainian territory.

“Putin cannot be allowed to alter international borders using brute force. We will ensure he loses this illegal war.”

 (AP)
(AP)

‘We are just telling you we have nuclear weapons,’ Russian politician says

09:18 , Zoe Tidman

Evgeny Popov also outlined what he considers Russia’s approach to nuclear weapons.

“We are not threatening anybody with our nuclear weapon. We just tell you we have nuclear weapons,” he claimed.

The Dumas member said Russia would not use them first, but only in response to a nuclear attack on its territory.

“Using nuclear weapon in 21st century, it is an insane decision. We are not insane,” Mr Popov said.

Russia ‘must defend’ people in Donbas, Putin supporter claims

09:02 , Zoe Tidman

Evgeny Popov, a Putin supporter and member of the Russian Dumas, has just been on Sky News talking about annexation and the Ukraine war.

When asked about warnings from Western leaders the annexation would be illegal, Mr Popov said it was considered “legal for Russia” and claimed his country “must defend” people in the Donbas. “They have been living under Ukrainian shelling for the last eight years,” he claimed.

The politician was also asked about reports of Russians fleeing the country after being called up for military service. “Yes, some people are fleeing Russia. But much more people – hundred thousand people – are joining the army now,” he told Sky News.

The Putin supporter claimed annexation was ‘legal’ for Russia (Sky News)
The Putin supporter claimed annexation was ‘legal’ for Russia (Sky News)

‘Serving Russia is a real job,’ St Petersburg billboard says

08:43 , Zoe Tidman

Here is an image from St Petersburg today. The billboard carries the slogan: “Serving Russia is a real job.”

Young men walk past the billboard in the Russian city (AFP via Getty Images)
Young men walk past the billboard in the Russian city (AFP via Getty Images)

ICYMI: Russian war dead have their sins forgiven, Russian Orthodox Church says

08:25 , Zoe Tidman

Russian soldiers who die in the line of duty in Ukraine have all of their sins forgiven, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church proclaimed in a sermon, comparing their sacrificial death to that of Jesus.

Here is a reminder of what happened earlier this week:

Moscow patriarch: Russian war dead have their sins forgiven

Death toll for civilian convoy strike

08:10 , Zoe Tidman

A death toll has been announced for a Russian missile strike that hit a humanitarian convoy on Friday.

At least 23 people were killed and 28 more wounded in the attack on civilian vehicles near the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, according to the regional governor.

In photos: Moscow ready for incorporating 4 Ukrainian areas amid international condemnation

07:51 , Arpan Rai

Workers fix a banner reading “Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson - Russia!” on top of a construction installed in front of the State Historical Museum outside Red Square in central Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
Workers fix a banner reading “Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson - Russia!” on top of a construction installed in front of the State Historical Museum outside Red Square in central Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian soldiers run along Red Square in central Moscow as the square is sealed prior to a ceremony of the incorporation of the new territories into Russia (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian soldiers run along Red Square in central Moscow as the square is sealed prior to a ceremony of the incorporation of the new territories into Russia (AFP via Getty Images)
Banner reading “Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson - Russia!” seen on top of a construction installed in front of the State Historical Museum outside Red Square in Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
Banner reading “Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson - Russia!” seen on top of a construction installed in front of the State Historical Museum outside Red Square in Moscow (AFP via Getty Images)
Two men celebrate annexation move by Russia in front of the stage where a formal ceremony will be held today. Russia will formally annex four regions of Ukraine its troops occupy at a grand ceremony in Moscow, the Kremlin has announced (AFP via Getty Images)
Two men celebrate annexation move by Russia in front of the stage where a formal ceremony will be held today. Russia will formally annex four regions of Ukraine its troops occupy at a grand ceremony in Moscow, the Kremlin has announced (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian soldiers stand on Red Square in central Moscow  as the square is sealed prior to a ceremony where Vladimir Putin is expected to give a major speech today (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian soldiers stand on Red Square in central Moscow as the square is sealed prior to a ceremony where Vladimir Putin is expected to give a major speech today (AFP via Getty Images)

Missiles strike civilian convoy in Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia city

07:32 , Arpan Rai

Russian missiles have struck a convoy of civilians near the Ukrainian city Zaporizhzhia early today, officials said.

Casualties have been reported from the missile attack, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said, adding that Russia targeted the besieged city’s outskirts.

“There are dead and wounded, rescuers are operating,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Too soon to say who caused Nord Stream pipeline ruptures - Pentagon

07:08 , Arpan Rai

It is too soon to speculate who could have caused the Nord Stream pipeline ruptures, the US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said.

“In terms of the attack - or the damage to the pipeline, at this point I think there’s a lot of speculation. But quite frankly, until a complete investigation is done, no one will be able to really determine for certain what happened,” the top Pentagon official said on Thursday.

He added that the incident has been discussed with Denmark.

“Until we get further information, or are able to do further analysis, we won’t speculate on who may have been responsible,” Mr Austin said.

Medical training, first-aid for Russian soldiers in Ukraine poor - MoD

06:40 , Arpan Rai

Russian soldiers deployed in Ukraine by Moscow are facing deteriorating medical provision and their first-aid awareness is likely poor, the British defence ministry said today.

“Medical provision for Russian combat troops in Ukraine is probably growing worse. Some newly mobilised Russian reservists have been ordered to source their own combat first aid supplies, with the advice that female sanitary products are a cost-effective solution,” the ministry said, referring to reports where Russian men have been asked to use tampons for treating bullet wounds.

Medical training and first-aid awareness is likely poor, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on the Ukraine war.

“Some Russia troops have obtained their own modern, Western-style combat tourniquets but have stowed them on their equipment using cable-ties, rather than with the Velcro provided - probably because such equipment is scarce and liable to be pilfered,” it added.

This is “almost certain to hamper or render impossible the timely application of tourniquet care in the case of catastrophic bleeding on the battlefield”.

Faced with poor medical provision, the Russian troops’s lack of confidence in the aid “is almost certainly contributing to a declining state of morale and a lack of willingness to undertake offensive operations in many units in Ukraine.”

Russia will annex itself to catastrophe – Zelensky

05:58 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has renounced Russia’s “attempted annexation” and said it will fill the occupied territory with graves.

“Everyone in the world understands well what such an attempted annexation would actually mean. It will not mean what the Kremlin hopes for,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

The wartime president added: “Russia will not get a new territory of Ukraine. Russia will annex itself to the catastrophe that it has brought to the occupied territory of our country.

“Russia will equate itself with the so-called ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’, and will completely finish off those institutions of normal statehood that still remained in Russia.”

Russia will fill the occupied territory of Ukraine with graves, he said, and added that: “There are more and more graves on the territory of Russia itself.

“The occupier sets up torture chambers in the occupied territory - and will fill the entire territory of Russia with torture chambers.

This is the only way the Russian police and Russian special services will work now,” he said.

43 Russian soldiers killed, two fighter jets downed - Ukraine

05:38 , Arpan Rai

The Ukrainian army says it attacked the Russian command post in Kherson’s Beryslavsky district and destroyed the drone control point in Davydiv Brid in the same region on Thursday.

At least 43 Russian soldiers have been killed in the last 24 hours, the southern operational command of the Ukrainian military said.

It added four tanks, four Msta-B and Msta-S howitzers, two self-propelled Hyacinth-S guns and 2 two Grad missile launchers were also destroyed in the military offensive.

Two Russian Su-25 fighter jets were downed in Mykolaiv oblast, the Ukrainian military said.

Putin to deliver major speech today after claiming four Ukrainian regions

05:27 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin is expected to host a ceremony today at Moscow’s Red Square announcing the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin would deliver an address at the Square and that the annexation of the four areas would be formalised at the ceremony.

The Russian president has warned the world against attacking these regions and threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend them.

He will also meet leaders of the self-styled and Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) as well as the Russian-installed leaders of the parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia that Russian forces occupy.

It is not clear if Mr Putin will attend the Red Square concert, as he did a similar event in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Putin recognises independence of two Ukrainian regions

05:03 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin recognised the “independence” of two occupied Ukrainian regions – Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – late last night.

The presidential decree, which is a precursor to annexing the regions into the Russian Federation, read: “I order the recognition of the state sovereignty and independence” of the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, located in southern Ukraine, reported AFP.

The other two regions that will be annexed by Russia today – Donetsk and Luhansk – were already recognised by Moscow as “independent” from Ukraine several weeks ago.

04:32 , Arpan Rai

Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Friday, 30 September.