Russia moves to annex occupied territories while Ukraine pushes offensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains positive.
Russian soldier, Mariupol, Ukraine, April 18, 2022

Authorities in parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine proposed plans for the Kremlin to annex four border areas, while the Ukrainian army is quickly retaking territory.

Portions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are scheduled to hold three-day votes starting Friday about whether they should become part of Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin's lower house passed legislation to help address a troop shortage, possibly signaling that Russia is preparing for a full-scale mobilization. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains positive and said his country's military is stabilizing control of the liberated Kharkiv region.

"We warned you—Russian soldiers in Ukraine have just two options: flight from our land or capture," he said Monday during his daily video address.

Ukraine said last week that troops pushed Russian forces back to the border as part of a major counter-offensive more than six months after Moscow's invasion. Photos from liberated areas show alleged Russian "torture chambers" where investigators say Ukrainian civilians were terrorized.