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Vladimir Putin signed the laws on the annexation of 4 regions of Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws incorporating four Ukrainian regions into Russia, a move that ended the annexation declared in violation of international law.
The documents were published on the Russian government's website on Wednesday morning.
Earlier in the week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties declaring Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions part of Russia. The formalities followed Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums" that Ukraine and the West have dismissed as a fraud.
The signing takes place at a time when Moscow's war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous phase. Russia faces mounting obstacles on the battlefield, with Ukrainian forces increasingly retaking land in the east and south, precisely in regions that Moscow has declared annexed.
The borders of the territories Russia claims remain unclear, but the Kremlin has vowed to defend Russia's territory, including annexed regions, by any means, including nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the annexation by announcing the application to join NATO and officially ruling out talks with Russia. President Zelenskyy's decree, published on Tuesday, states that negotiations with Vladimir Putin have become impossible after his decision to take control of four regions of Ukraine.
On Wednesday morning, multiple explosions rocked Bila Tserkvan, causing fires in what were described as infrastructure facilities in the city south of Kiev, regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said on the Telegram network.
The first data indicate that the city was attacked by so-called "kamikaze" or suicide drones, he said.
Bila Tserkva lies about 80 kilometers south of Kiev.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces continued to advance south. Kiev's military said on Wednesday it had recaptured more villages in the Kherson region as part of a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Southern Operational Command said that the Ukrainian flag was raised over the villages of Liubymivka, Khreschenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka and Mala Oleksandrivka./ VOA