Putin signs into law annexation of Ukraine regions as fighting continues
Following annexation of the regions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his country's fast-track application to join NATO.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the annexation of four Ukrainian regions as his military struggled to control the areas that were illegally absorbed.
The annexation documents were published on a Russian government website, according to The Associated Press, after the Kremlin orchestrated "referendums" in the four regions that were condemned as illegitimate by both the Ukrainian government and the West. Putin signed the treaties last week to annex the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, after the Russian parliament approved them.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with reporters that "certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia."
In the Kherson region, while Russia has claimed that Ukrainian advances had been halted, Ukraine said it had raised its flag over seven villages in the region that had previously been occupied by the Russians.
Also according to the Ukrainians, the country's forces still control some areas in the Russian-annexed Donetsk region.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Tuesday that his country is seeking a fast-track application to join NATO.
Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, which Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told CNN was just "saber-rattling."
When the annexation was announced, President Joe Biden said, "The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory," The Hill reported.
"Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere," he added.