The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, has ratified agreements incorporating four regions of Ukraine into Russia, a further step toward the formal annexation of the territories, which has been met with condemnation from the West.
All of the 153 deputies who were present at the session on October 4 voted for the annexation of parts of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions, which represent around 18 percent of Ukraine.
A day earlier, parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, approved the move. The final step in the process is the signing of the documents into law by President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is following through on the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv have called the votes a “sham” and said they breached international law and were coercive and nonrepresentative.
According to the agreements, signed last week between Putin and Moscow-backed officials in the four regions, the transitional period for the annexed territories to become fully incorporated into Russia will last until January 1, 2026. Local elections in the territories are scheduled for September 10, 2023.
Russia does not fully control any of the four regions and the Kremlin has yet to formally designate the new borders as large parts of the territory is still under the control of Ukraine’s forces.
The documents, however, say that the Donetsk and Luhansk regions will be absorbed by Russia as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. The borders will be set according to 2014, when parts of the two regions were forcibly taken under control by Russia-backed separatists.
Part of Ukraine’s Mykolayiv region, which is under the control of Russian armed forces, will be annexed as part of the Kherson region, the documents say.