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Putin Signs Annexation of Ukraine Areas10/05 06:10

   

   KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws 
formally absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, even as its military 
struggles to control the territory that was illegally annexed.

   The documents finalizing the annexation, carried out in defiance of 
international laws, were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday 
morning.

   Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties 
making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. 
That followed Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums" in the four regions that 
Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

   On the ground, Moscow's war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous 
phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and 
more land in the east and in the south -- the very regions Moscow has pushed to 
annex.

   The borders of the territories Russia is claiming still remain unclear, but 
the Kremlin has vowed to defend Russia's territory -- the newly absorbed 
regions too -- with any means at its disposal, including nuclear weapons.

   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the annexation by 
announcing a fast-track application to join NATO and formally ruling out talks 
with Russia. Zelenskyy's decree, released Tuesday, declares that holding 
negotiations with Putin has become impossible after his decision to take over 
the four regions of Ukraine.

   The head of Zelenskyy's office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on his Telegram channel 
shortly after Putin signed the annexation that "the worthless decisions of the 
terrorist country (Russia) are not worth the paper they are signed on.

   "A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world," he 
added.

   Russia and Ukraine gave conflicting assessments Wednesday of a Ukrainian 
offensive in the strategic southern Kherson region -- one of the four areas 
that Russia is annexing.

   A Russian-installed official in the Kherson region insisted that Ukrainian 
advances in the region have been halted.

   Kirill Stremousov, in comments to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti, 
said that "as of this morning ... there are no movements" by Kyiv's forces. He 
vowed that "they won't enter (the city of) Kherson, it is impossible."

   However, Kyiv's military said Wednesday they have recaptured more villages 
in the Kherson region as a part of their massive counteroffensive effort. 
Operational Command South said that the Ukrainian flag has been raised above 
seven villages previously occupied by the Russians.

   Military hospitals are full of wounded Russian soldiers, and Russian 
military medics lack medicaments, wrote Deputy Head of Kherson regional 
administration Yurii Sobolevskyi on Telegram. After the condition of Russian 
soldiers stabilizes, they are sent for further treatment in Crimea. "Not 
everyone arrives," he wrote.

   On the battlefield on Wednesday morning, multiple explosions rocked Bila 
Tserkva, setting off fires at what were described as infrastructure facilities 
in the city to the south of the capital Kyiv, regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba 
said on Telegram.

   Early indications are that the city was attacked by so-called kamikaze or 
suicide drones, he said.

   Bila Tserkva is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Kyiv.

   Russia has increasingly been using suicide drones in recent weeks, posing a 
new challenge to Ukrainian defenses. The unmanned vehicles can stay aloft for 
long periods of time before diving into their targets and detonating their 
payload at the last moment.

   Many of the earlier attacks by the Iranian-made drones happened in the south 
of the country and not near the capital, which hasn't been targeted for weeks.

   In a later post, Kuleba said that a total of six Shahed-136 drones struck 
the city, one of the largest in the region after Kyiv itself. One person was 
wounded in the attacks.

   Dozens of rescue workers were on the scene and still working to extinguish 
the fires hours after the attacks were reported, he said.

   Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least five civilians have been killed and eight 
others have been wounded by the latest Russian shelling, according to the 
country's presidential office.

   In the Donetsk region, the Russian forces shelled eight towns and villages. 
In Sviatohirsk, which was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces, a burial ground for 
civilians was found and the bodies of four civilians were discovered, according 
to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.

 
 
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