Russia to formally annex occupied regions of Ukraine
A Russian official said Thursday that the invading country will annex four regions of Ukraine, and the annexation will formally take place Friday. The four regions make up about 15 percent of Ukraine—or about 35,000 square miles. That’s about the size of Hungary or Portugal. Last week, Russia orchestrated referendums in the occupied territory as a vote to join Russia. Russia said the Ukrainian regions voted to join it, but the referendums were denounced by the United States. Many western countries believe the votes were a sham, a hollow excuse to defend Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions as if they were Russian soil. Ukraine said Wednesday that it would fight for the annexed land.
How are western countries responding? The White House and the European Union are preparing more sanctions after Russia threatened to use nuclear weapons again. The U.S. also announced Wednesday that it is giving Ukraine $1.1 billion more in military aid. It’s being financed through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and so far the U.S. has given Ukraine about $17 billion. Many countries bordering Russia are accepting military-aged men who are fleeing a recent military call-up.
Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift on Ukrainians fleeing before the referendums.
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