Russia-Ukraine war latest LIVE: Putin annexes four Ukrainian regions in breach of international law and issues new nuclear threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed treaties to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces, escalating his seven-month war and taking it into an unpredictable new phase.

“This is the will of millions of people,” he said in a speech before hundreds of dignitaries in the St George’s Hall of the Kremlin. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever.”

At a ceremony that Kyiv called a “Kremlin freak show” devoid of legal meaning, Putin delivered a 37-minute diatribe against the West, accusing it of “sheer Satanism”, before signing the treaty documents with the Russian-backed heads of the four entities. He said he would protect the newly incorporated regions using “all available means”.

Later he addressed a rally in Moscow’s Red Square attended by thousands of supporters.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Friday summoned Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, to protest in the “strongest possible terms” against the illegal annexation.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has condemned the move as illegal.

“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,” she said.

Earlier, a Russian strike on a humanitarian convoy in the city of Zaporizhzhia killed at least 23 people and injured another 28, Ukrainian officials said.

France slams Russia’s ‘serious violation of international law’

18:08 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

France has slammed Russia’s ‘annexation’ of four Ukrainian regions - echoing condemnation widely expressed by other countries.

In a statement on Twitter [translated into English] French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I strongly condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson.

“This is a serious violation of international law and of Ukrainian sovereignty.

“France opposes this and will continue to stand alongside Ukraine to confront Russian aggression and allow Ukraine to recover its full sovereignty over all of its territory.”

G7 says ‘sham’ annexation is ‘new low point’ for Russia

18:00 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The G7 has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” Russia’s “continued violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.

In a joint statement, G7 foreign ministers from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the EU High Representative said: “President Putin’s efforts to incorporate Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions into the territory of the Russian Federation constitute a new low point in Russia’s blatant flouting of international law.”

It described Russia’s ‘annexation’ of the four Ukrainian regions “yet another example of Russia’s unacceptable violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, the UN Charter, and the commonly agreed principles and commitments of the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter”.

“We will never recognise these purported annexations, nor the sham “referenda” conducted at gunpoint,” the statement continues.

The G7 called on the international community to “reject Russia’s brutal expansionism, its efforts to deny Ukraine’s existence as an independent state, and its blatant violation of the international norms that guarantee international peace, security, and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states”.

It added that it will impose further economic sanctions on Russia, and on “individuals and entities – inside and outside of Russia – that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law”.

The ministers stressed their “unwavering” support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself and reclaim its terrority from Russia, and condemned Russia’s “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric”. “It will not distract or dissuade us from supporting Ukraine, for as long as necessary,” they said.

They ended by urging Russia to “immediately stop its war of aggression” and withdraw troops and military equipment from Ukraine.

‘This is most serious escalation since start of war’, warns NATO chief

17:26 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine as the “most serious escalation” since its war began.

”If we let Putin win in Ukraine it will be catastrophic for Ukraine, dangerous for us,” he said.

He added that NATO does not recognise any of the four ‘annexed’ regions as being part of Russia.

Putin addresses Red Square concert

17:15 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Vladimir Putin has addressed huge crowds gathered for a concert in Moscow’s Red Square, held in ‘celebration’ of the declared annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

Huge crowds in Red Square ahead of concert

17:08 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Large crowds have now gathered ahead of a concert taking place in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate the declared annexation of four Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine.

People gather for the concert in Red Square, Moscow (REUTERS)
People gather for the concert in Red Square, Moscow (REUTERS)

Britain imposes new sanctions on Moscow

16:58 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Britain is stepping up sanctions against Russia following the “illegal” annexation of four areas of Ukraine, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said.

The Foreign Office said the measures would restrict Russia access to key UK commercial and transactional services as well as banning the export to Russia of almost 700 goods that are critical to manufacturing production.

Mr Cleverly said in a statement: “The UK utterly condemns Putin’s announcement of the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. We will never recognise the results of these sham referendums or any annexation of Ukrainian territory.

“The Russian regime must be held to account for this abhorrent violation of international law.

“That’s why we are working with our international partners to ramp up the economic pressure through new targeted services bans.

“What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, and the UK will do everything possible to assist their fight for freedom.”

Biden condemns Russia’s ‘fraudulent’ annexation, announces new sanctions

16:45 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Joe Biden has condemned the Kremlin’s “fraudulent” attempt today to annex parts of Ukraine and has announced fresh sanctions against Russia.

“Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere,” the US President said in a White House statement.

“Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week.” Biden added that in response to Russia’s “phony claims of annexation”, the US and its allies are announcing a raft of new sanctions.

“These sanctions will impose costs on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” he said.

“We will rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself, undeterred by Russia’s brazen effort to redraw the borders of its neighbor. And I look forward to signing legislation from Congress that will provide an additional $12 billion to support Ukraine. “I urge all members of the international community to reject Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation and to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Poland condemns annexation of Ukrainian regions

16:02 , Bill Mcloughlin

A statement from Poland’s foreign ministry has condemned the earlier annexation of the four Ukrainian regions.

It read: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns in the strongest terms the illegal acts of ‘recognition of independence’ and ‘incorporation’ into the Russian Federation of parts of Ukraine’s regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.”

Ukraine to submit ‘accelerated’ NATO application

15:37 , Bill Mcloughlin

Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky has confirmed he has taken the next steps in joining NATO following Vladimir Putin’s speech.

Writing on Telegram, he said: “We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO.”

Before adding: “We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other.”

UK summons Russian ambassador following Putin’s speech

15:22 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Russian ambassador has been summoned by the Foreign Office to protest Moscow's annexation of what is more than 15 per cent of Ukraine.

‘Vladimir Putin your speech is a fraud and a disgrace,’ says Boris Johnson

15:15 , Bill Mcloughlin

Former prime minister, Boris Johnson has condemned Vladimir Putin’s speech.

He said: “Vladimir Putin your speech is a fraud and a disgrace. The world must never accept your sham referendums or your cruel and illegal attempt to colonise Ukraine.

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

Crowds gather in Moscow’s Red Square

15:07 , Bill Mcloughlin


Japan PM condemns Russian annexation of parts of Ukraine

14:39 , Michael Howie

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in a telephone call on Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, condemned Russia's new annexation of parts of Ukraine as illegal and a violation of the country's sovereignty.

"I told him that the process that Russia called a referendum and its annexation of parts of Ukraine should never be accepted, and that I strongly condemn them," Mr Kishida said afterwards.

Putin celebrates with new leaders

14:15 , Michael Howie

After the documents were signed, Mr Putin celebrates with the four leaders of the regions.

 (Sky News)
(Sky News)

EU rejects Russian annexation of Ukrainian regions

14:09 , Bill Mcloughlin

‘The world will never be the same,’ says Putin

14:05 , Bill Mcloughlin

Prior to signing the documents, the Russian President claimed the downfall of the so-called “Western hegemony is “irreversible”.

He adds: “We are called by this history, by our faith to fight for historic Russia.

“For great, historic Russia, for future gfenerations, for our children and grandchildren we need to protect them from these experiments which aimed to break their soul and their consciousness.

“We are fighting for our culture, for our language so that it’s impossible to cancel it and remove it from history.”

Official annexation documents signed

14:02 , Bill Mcloughlin

Following his speech, the ceremony to sign the annexation documents has taken place.

Although not recognised by the West, Mr Putin has now signed the documents decreeing Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as part of Russia.

Vladimir Putin signs the document (Sky News)
Vladimir Putin signs the document (Sky News)

Russian President continues attack on the West

13:55 , Bill Mcloughlin

In his speech, the Russian President claims the West has always been angry over the annexation of Crimea followign its disputed referendum.

He adds: “That’s why they believe that people do not have the right to have self-determination.

The Western elites have always been like this.

“They have been colonisers and they remain colonisers, they discriminate and they they distinguish between the first class of nations and second class nations.”

‘People have made their choice'

13:39 , Will Mata

Some more soundbites from the Russian leader:

"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 U.N. Charter."

"People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever."

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

Putin: ‘West is leading a hybrid war’

13:37 , Will Mata

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied seeking to revive the Soviet Union, moments after announcing Moscow would annex four Ukrainian provinces following "referendums" decried in Kyiv and the West as a sham.

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

He also said the west is “leading a hybrid war” against Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation (via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation (via REUTERS)

Putin: Kyiv should respect the will of the people

13:32 , Will Mata

Vladimir Putin has called on Ukraine to respect the referendums that were held - allegedly showing support for the annexing.

Western states have called the votes a “sham”.

“Kyiv should respect the will of the people,” Mr Putin said.

Putin says Russia has 'four new regions' as he announces annexation of Ukrainian territory

13:30 , Will Mata

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced Russia had "four new regions" in a speech in the Kremlin on Friday in which he outlined Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions that Moscow's forces have partially seized during a seven-month conflict with Ukraine.

Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and unrepresentative.

Putin begins address

13:29 , Will Mata

Russian President Vladimir Putin (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin has begun his televised address. His soundbites so far include:

“Those who have fallen in the special military operation are great heroes of Russia.”

“We will always remember thos who did not put up with (the) neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine in 2014.”

“People were torn from their motherland when the Soviet Union broke up.”

Statement from Liz Truss

13:03 , Will Mata

Liz Truss’s pro-Ukraine tweet (Liz Truss / Twitter)
Liz Truss’s pro-Ukraine tweet (Liz Truss / Twitter)

Liz Truss has tweeted her disapproval of Vladimir Putin’s effort to annex the four Ukraine regions.

The prime minister said: “Vladimir Putin is once again violating international law with his threats to annex more of Ukraine.

“We will not hesitate to take further action, including imposing more sanctions to cripple Putin’s war machine.

“We will ensure he loses this illegal war.”

Lower chamber informed of plan to annex

12:45 , Will Mata

Russian President Vladimir Putin (via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (via REUTERS)

The head of Russia’s lower chamber of parliament said on Friday that president Vladimir Putin had notified the house about plans to admit four regions of Ukraine into Russia - a technical step towards Russia’s annexation of the territories.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a key ally of Mr Putin, said on the Duma’s official Telegram channel that Putin had informed the parliament of official requests by the regions.

Russia had held what it called referendums in four partially-occupied areas of Ukraine - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and said they had produced overwhelming majorities in favour of joining Russia.

Western governments and Kyiv said the votes had been carried out under the coercion of occupation, were unrepresentative and breached international law.

Pictures from Red Square ahead of annexation announcement

12:00 , Bill Mcloughlin

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Germany ‘all-in’ against Russia’s energy war

11:53 , Bill Mcloughlin

Germany is committed to fighting Vladimir Putin’s energy war, the country’s finance minister has said.

"The first signal is to Putin that we are not going to be deterred but that we have an all-in strategy to protect our country," Christian Lindner told the German parliament.

"The other message is that behind the protective screen we are putting up around us the debt brake will continue to work: a clear message to the world's providers of capital that Germany remains solid."

US ambassador reiterates opposition to Russia referendums

11:06 , Bill Mcloughlin

Pictures following the strike on Zaporizhzhia

10:14 , Bill Mcloughlin

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Zelensky issues response following attack in Zaporizhzhia

09:50 , Bill Mcloughlin

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of being a “terrorist state” following the attack in Zaporizhzhia.

He said: “The terrorist state fires rockets at the civilian population in Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk.

“It strikes Ukrainian regions from rocket launchers and drones. The occupiers fired 16 rockets in one morning in Zaporizhzhia district alone.

“Only complete terrorists can do this, who should have no place in the civilised world. The enemy rages and seeks revenge for our steadfastness and his failures. It cynically destroys peaceful Ukrainians, because it lost everything human a long time ago. Bloodthirsty scum. You will definitely answer for every lost Ukrainian life.”

Liz Truss accuses Putin of breaking international law

09:26 , Bill Mcloughlin

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."

Star Wars star Mark Hamill meets with Zelensky

09:03 , Bill Mcloughlin

Medical provisions for Russian combat troops in Ukraine worsening, says UK

08:42 , Bill Mcloughlin

According to the Ministry of Defence, some Russian troops have now been ordered to source their own combat aid supplies due to a shortage of provisions.

Russian strike on humanitarian convoy in Ukraine kills 23, official says

08:26 , Bill Mcloughlin

A Russian strike on a humanitarian convoy in the city of Zaporizhzhia has killed at least 23 people and injured another 28, an Ukrainian official has said.

Zaporizhzhia regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said Russian forces targeted the convoy heading to Russian-occupied territory.

He posted images of burned out vehicles and bodies lying in the road. Russian officials did not immediately acknowledge the strike.

It comes as Moscow prepares to annex four regions into Russia after an internationally criticised, gunpoint referendum vote as part of its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Starukh said those in the convoy planned to travel into Russian-occupied territory to pick up their relatives and then take them to safety. He said rescuers were at the site of the attack.