Russia to annex parts of Ukraine in a ceremony, after resident voting denounced as 'sham'
The four Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine to be annexed are Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The Kremlin says the parts of occupied Ukraine set to be annexed after a "sham" voter referendum will be officially made part of Russia in a ceremony Friday.
The announcement was made Thursday by the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Putin spokesperson said the ceremony will start with the signing of a treaty to make the four occupied areas – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – part of Russia, according to state-run media agency Tass.
Putin is set to give a speech at the event, roughly seven months after he invaded neighboring Ukraine.
The Kremlin says the voter participation in the recent, five-day referendum was as high as 97.5% in some areas and that over 96% of residents voted in support of becoming part of Russia.
The election has been criticized by international leaders as a "sham," and Russian troops reportedly went door-to-door with election officials to collect ballots in the referendum.
Putin earlier this month ordered a "partial" military mobilization that included the calling up of roughly 300,000 military reserves for the war effort.