Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously sanctioned the accession of four Ukrainian regions into Russia on Tuesday in violation of international law.
The Federation Council passed the constitutional laws on the illegal annexation of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The lower house, the State Duma, also voted unanimously to authorize the illegal annexation on Monday, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies effectively control both branches of the Russian legislature, and the space for political dissent in Russia has shrunk in recent years.
The four accession documents — one for each of the regions — will now head to Putin’s desk.
According to the laws, residents of the new entities were recognized as Russian citizens starting on September 30, when the formal agreements of accession between the Russian Federation and the four regions were signed in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall.
Following the results of so-called referendums, Putin made a formal speech at the ceremony on Friday, declaring that the millions of people living in the four regions would be Russian citizens “forever.”
Russian-backed leaders held votes across the four regions in recent weeks. The ballots are illegal under international law and were dismissed by Kyiv and Western leaders as a “sham.”
The residents of the new regions can acquire Russian citizenship by submitting applications and being sworn in as Russian citizens, according to TASS.
According to the laws, the DPR and the LPR will retain their status as republics after joining Russia and Russian will be their official language. The Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions will also join Russia as constituent entities and will continue to be called “regions,” TASS reported.
The borders of the republics and regions will be the same as those that existed on the day of their creation and accession into Russia, and their borders with other countries will be regarded as Russia’s state borders, according to TASS.
The DPR and the LPR are joining Russia under the 2014 borders described in their “constitutions,” according to TASS.
The movements in Russia’s parliament contradict the state of the war on the ground in Ukraine, where Kyiv has made sweeping gains in the east and the south of the country and forced Moscow to retreat from several positions in areas the Kremlin declared it is annexing.