Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would defend its newly-annexed territory with all the means at its disposal.
Russia annexed four regions of Ukraine following a series of votes Kyiv and the West have denounced as illegal, sham referendums. Putin said Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia would be merged into Russia.
Calling Ukraine to sit down for talks to end the conflict, he warned Russia would never surrender control of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia back to Ukraine again.
He argued it was the “integral right” of people living in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia to join Russia, citing the United Nations charter and its affirmation of the right to self-determination.