Russian President, Vladimir Putin has signed a decree for the formal accession of four Ukrainian regions to Russia. In a speech at the Kremlin, Putin said people in the four regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk will remain Russian citizens forever. Putin pointed to the referendums held in the four regions, saying Ukraine has to respect the will of the people. The president vowed to defend the Russian land with all means available. Russia says people in the four regions have voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation.
Ukraine NATO bid
Ukraine says it is applying for fast-track NATO military alliance membership following Moscow’s formal integration of four Ukrainian regions into Russia. President Volodymyr Zelensky also ruled out any negotiations with Moscow as long as Russian president Vladimir Putin is in office. Russia’s move has also triggered strong reactions from Ukraine’s Western allies. US president Joe Biden said Washington will never recognize what he called Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian land. The White House has also announced severe new sanctions against Russia. The UK has also slapped fresh bans on Russia. Elsewhere, the European Union has vowed to never recognize the absorption and accused the Kremlin of jeopardizing global security. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described the move as a dangerous escalation.
Afghanistan bomb attack
At least 19 people are killed, many more wounded, in a suicide attack on an education center in the Afghan capital Kabul.