In a drastic escalation of the seven-month invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin made deals on Friday to illegally seize additional occupied Ukrainian territory. The president of Ukraine responded right away by unexpectedly submitting an application to join the NATO armed alliance.
Fears of a full-fledged battle between Russia and the West are increasing as a result of Putin’s land grab with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s signature of what he called an “expedited” NATO membership application. These two events sent the two leaders hurtling even faster toward each other.
At a Kremlin signing ceremony, Putin threatened to defend recently acquired territories of Ukraine using “all possible means,” a nuclear-backed threat. He also raged angrily at the West, blaming the United States and its allies for wanting to destroy Russia.
Zelenskyy then conducted a signing ceremony by himself in Kyiv, sharing a video of him signing what he claimed to be a legitimate application for NATO membership. In his words, it was “our decisive step.”
Putin has made it quite obvious that any possibility of Ukraine joining the strongest military alliance in the world is one of his red lines, and he has used this as one of the excuses for his invasion, which is the largest land conflict in Europe since World War II.
Putin asked Ukraine to participate in peace negotiations during his speech, but he quickly said he would not bring up the subject of returning occupied territory. There won’t be any talks with Putin, according to Zelenskyy.
We are prepared to have a conversation with Russia, but with a different Russian president, he added.
Putin charged the West with inciting hostilities at his signing ceremony in the opulent St. George’s Hall of the Kremlin as part of a plot to make Russia a “colony” and “crowds of slaves,” in which he claimed the West is a party. Tensions in the battle, which have reached levels unseen since Cold War, have been ratcheted up further by his hardening of attitude. The fight has resulted in the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of people.
More than a thousand individuals and organizations, including the head of the Central Bank of Russia, were targeted by the United States with sanctions.
President Joe Biden remarked on Putin’s annexation of the areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia: “Make no mistake: These acts have no legitimacy.”
The “illegal annexation” was rejected and denounced by the European Union. The organization’s 27 members vowed not to accept the illegitimate votes that Russia orchestrated “as a justification for this additional violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”
In defiance of Putin’s advice that Ukraine should not attempt to reclaim what it has lost, Zelenskyy promised to continue fighting.
“This adversary will be driven from our country’s whole land, “the head of Ukraine declared. “This is already known to Russia. It senses our might.”
Since the “accelerated” NATO application needs the support of all members, its immediate effects were not immediately apparent. However, the delivery of Western weapons for Ukraine has brought it closer to an alliance’s sphere of influence.
De facto, Zelenskyy asserted, “We have already shown compliance with alliance requirements.” “We rely on one another, support one another, and safeguard one another. The alliance is as follows.
Putin’s Kremlin event came three days after Moscow-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia were completed in occupied territories. Kyiv and the West denounced these “referendums” as a blatant land grab conducted under duress and based on lies.
He stressed that Ukraine treats the Kremlin-managed ballots “with respect” in his ferocious speech at the ceremony.
Following the signing of the treaties that join Russia, the leaders of the seized territories who had been placed by Moscow came around Putin and joined hands, chanting “Russia! Russia!” together with the audience.
Putin, though, cut a furious figure as he charged that the US and its allies wanted to annihilate Russia. He claimed that the West operated “like a parasite” and “robbed the entire planet” with its resources and advanced technology.
He presented Russia as on a historical mission to restore its role as a post-Soviet great power and combat Western dominance, which he claimed was in the process of disintegrating.
He declared, “History has called us to the field of battle to fight for his people, for great historic Russia, and for future generations.”
Moscow has supported the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk areas in eastern Ukraine ever since they proclaimed their independence in 2014, just weeks after the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia. Russia quickly took control of the southern Kherson area and a portion of the adjoining Zaporizhzhia region when Putin launched soldiers into Ukraine on February 24.
The treaties for the regions to join Russia will be ratified by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament next week, and then sent to Putin for his approval.
Putin and his lieutenants have sternly cautioned Ukraine against launching an offensive to retake the territories, claiming that Russia would see such an action as an act of aggression. Moscow can withstand such threats thanks to the greatest nuclear arsenal in the world.
Putin’s unauthorized annexation was an effort to prevent further military failures that may endanger his 22-year rule. Putin appears to be hoping to frighten Ukraine and its Western backers with the threat of a rapidly escalating confrontation if they don’t back down, which they show no indications of doing. This is why he formalized Russia’s gains, at least on paper.
The majority of the Luhansk and Kherson areas are under Russian control, as well as around 60% of the Donetsk region and a sizable portion of the Zaporizhzhia region, where it has taken control of the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.
But the Kremlin is on the verge of another stinging battlefield loss, with reports of the imminent Ukrainian encirclement of the eastern city of Lyman. Retaking it could open the path for Ukraine to push deep into Luhansk, one of the regions Russia is absorbing.
“It appears quite pitiful. The Kremlin is creating some sort of virtual reality that is unable to react in the real world, whereas Ukrainians are acting and moving forward in the physical world, according to political analyst and former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov.
People are aware that politics is currently being fought on the front lines, he continued. “Who moves forward and who pulls back matters. In that regard, the Kremlin is unable to provide Russians with any consolation.
According to the general prosecutor’s office, Russia repeatedly attacked Ukrainian cities using missiles, rockets, and suicide drones. In one attack, 25 people were reportedly killed and 50 were injured. The coordinated salvos were Moscow’s heaviest onslaught in weeks.
The attack killed the people within the relief truck and left behind large craters and shrapnel. Buildings close by were destroyed. The victims were covered with trash bags, blankets, and, once per victim, a towel drenched in blood.
Analysts have forewarned that as a part of a plan to intensify the war and undermine Western backing, Putin was expected to draw more heavily on his diminishing supplies of precise weapons and intensify assaults.
Moscow’s control over the battlefield has been undermined by an onslaught by the Ukrainians. Its control over the Luhansk region seems to be eroding as Ukrainian soldiers advance there and attack Lyman in a pincer motion. Additionally, Ukraine continues to maintain a sizable presence in the nearby Donetsk region.
According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, anti-aircraft missiles which Russia has repurposed into ground-attack weaponry rained down on people waiting in automobiles to enter into Russian-occupied territory in order to carry family members back over front lines.
Ukrainian military was blamed by Russian-installed officials in Zaporizhzhia, but no proof was provided.
There have also been reports of Russian strikes in Dnipro. Regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko reported that five people had been hurt and at least one had died.
According to Ukraine’s air force, Russian suicide drones provided by Iran were used to attack the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa, maybe to prevent the loss of more pilots who aren’t in control of Ukraine’s skies.
Although there have been protests, Russia has sworn to protect its gains, threatening to use nuclear weapons and deploying an additional 300,000 troops. Ukraine has threatened to recover all of the land that it has been occupying.
The battle for Lyman, a crucial hub for Russian military activities in the Donbas and a prize for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, served as a reminder of this.
Denis Pushilin, the Donetsk rebel commander backed by Russia, claimed that Ukrainian forces have “half-encircled” the city. He described the defeat as “worrying news,” according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
He claimed that “Ukraine’s armed formations are working really hard to ruin our joy.”