Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Saturday that residents of the four regions that Moscow illegally annexed last year “made their choice to be with the motherland”.
In a speech that was made public in the early hours of Saturday, to mark the first anniversary of the annexation, Mr. Putin said that the annexation was carried out in full accordance with international norms.
He claimed that residents in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions once again expressed their desire to be part of Russia in local elections held last month, in which Russia’s Central Election Commission said the ruling party had won the majority of votes.
On September 30, 2022, Moscow officially recognized four Ukrainian regions as Russian territories after holding referendums, where the Kremlin said it had the support of the vast majority of residents.
The West has rejected the election results and called the annexations of regions where Russian troops do not have full control illegal.