Russia is defending its “sovereignty” and “spiritual values” by waging war in Ukraine, president Vladimir Putin said in a video address which was posted on the Kremlin website as Moscow marked the anniversary of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
“We are defending Russia itself, are fighting together for the Motherland, for our sovereignty, spiritual values and unity, for victory,” Vladimir Putin said. Russia has to implement a “large-scale program” to develop the annexed regions, he added.
Vladimir Putin insisted that the annexation was carried out “in full accordance with international norms” as he claimed that residents of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions had again expressed their desire to be part of Russia in local elections earlier this month. Russia-appointed authorities held elections in those regions earlier this month. The Kremlin had also held referendums a year ago to annex the Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions which Ukraine and the West called sham. The votes drew condemnation from the United Nations and Ukraine’s allies.
The residents of four Ukrainian regions “made their choice — to be with their Fatherland”, Vladimir Putin asserted while a concert was held in Red Square to mark the anniversary in which the Russian leader did not participate.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, air defences shot down 30 out of 40 Iranian-made kamikaze drones aimed at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Vinnytsia provinces overnight, the Ukrainian air force said. Vinnytsia regional governor Serhii Borzov said that air defences shot down 20 drones over his central Ukrainian region. A “powerful fire” broke out in the town of Kalynivka when a drone struck an unspecified infrastructure facility, the governor informed.
Russia’s defence ministry said that it had shot down nine Ukrainian rockets fired at its southern Belgorod region. Local officials in Russia’s Bryansk region reported disruptions to power supply following an unspecified attack on the town of Pogar.
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