Putin signs annexation of Ukrainian regions as losses mount

Oct 5, 2022, 2:47 AM | Updated: 11:38 pm
A Ukrainian serviceman and journalists walk between destroyed Russian equipment placed in an area a...

A Ukrainian serviceman and journalists walk between destroyed Russian equipment placed in an area at the recaptured town of Lyman, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the final papers Wednesday to annex four regions of Ukraine while his military struggled to control the new territory that was added in violation of international laws.

Ukrainian law enforcement officials, meanwhile, reported discovering more evidence of torture and killings in areas retaken from Russian forces. In Lyman, an eastern town liberated after more than four months of Russian occupation, residents emerged from their destroyed homes to receive packages of food and medicine.

In a defiant move, the Kremlin held the door open for further land grabs in Ukraine.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia.”

Peskov did not specify which additional Ukrainian territories Moscow is eyeing, and he wouldn’t say if the Kremlin planned to organize more such “referendums.”

Putin last week signed treaties that purported to absorb Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia. The annexation followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in Ukraine that the Ukrainian government and the West have dismissed as illegitimate.

The Russian president defended the validity of the vote, saying it’s “more than convincing” and “absolutely transparent and not subject to any doubt.”

“This is objective data on people’s mood,” Putin said Wednesday at an event dedicated to teachers, adding that he was pleasantly “surprised” by the results.

Putin also signed a decree Wednesday declaring that Russia was taking over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void.” The state nuclear operator said it would continue to operate the plant, which was occupied by Russian forces early in the war.

On the ground, Russia faced mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and more land in the eastern and southern regions that Moscow now insists are its own.

The precise borders of the areas Moscow is claiming remain unclear, but Putin has vowed to defend Russia’s territory — including the annexed regions — with any means at his military’s disposal, including nuclear weapons.

Shortly after Putin signed the annexation legislation, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on his Telegram channel that “the worthless decisions of the terrorist country are not worth the paper they are signed on.”

“A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world,” Yermak added.

Zelenskyy responded to the annexation by announcing Ukraine’s fast-track application to join NATO. In a decree released Tuesday, he also ruled out negotiations with Russia, declaring that Putin’s actions made talking to the Russian leader impossible.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy switched to Russian to tell the Kremlin that it has already lost because it still has to explain to Russian society why the war and the mobilization are necessary.

“And more and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” Zelenskyy said.

In the eastern Kharkiv region, more disturbing images emerged from areas recently reclaimed from Russia.

Serhiy Bolvinov, who heads the investigative department of the national police in the region, said authorities are investigating an alleged Russian torture chamber in the village of Pisky-Radkivski.

He posted an image of a box of what appeared to be precious metal teeth and dentures presumably extracted from those held at the site. The authenticity of the photo could not be confirmed.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general also spoke of new evidence of torture and killings found Wednesday in the Kharkiv region.

Andriy Kostin told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a security conference in Warsaw that he had just been notified of four bodies found with signs of possible torture. He said they were believed to be civilians but an investigation was still needed.

Two bodies were found in a factory in Kupiansk with their hands bound behind their backs, while two other bodies were found in Novoplatonivka, their hands linked by handcuffs.

During his public speech, Kostin said officials found the bodies of 24 civilians, including 13 children and one pregnant woman, who had been killed in six cars near Kupiansk. It was not clear when the discovery was made.

On the battlefield, Russia and Ukraine gave conflicting assessments of a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Russian-occupied southern Kherson region. A Moscow-installed regional official insisted that Ukrainian advances had been halted.

“As of this morning … there are no movements” by Kyiv’s forces, Kirill Stremousov said Wednesday in comments to state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

However, the Ukrainian military said the Ukrainian flag had been raised above seven Kherson region villages previously occupied by the Russians. The closest of the liberated villages to the city of Kherson is Davydiv Brid, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian regional government, Yurii Sobolevskyi, said military hospitals were full of wounded Russian soldiers and that Russian military medics lacked supplies. Once they are stabilized, Russian soldiers were getting sent to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

“Not everyone arrives,” Sobolevskyi wrote.

In the neighboring Mykolaiv region, the governor said Russian troops have started to withdraw from Snihurivka, a city of 12,000 that Moscow seized early in the war and annexed along with the Kherson region. A Russian-installed official in Snihurivka, Yury Barbashov, denied that Russian troops had lost control of the city, a strategic railway hub, but said Ukrainian forces were advancing.

In the Moscow-annexed eastern Donetsk region, where Ukrainian forces still control some areas, Russian forces shelled eight towns and villages, the Ukrainian presidential office said.

After reclaiming the Donetsk city of Sviatohirsk, Ukrainian forces located a burial ground for civilians and found the bodies of four people, according to Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.

When Russian troops pulled back from the Donetsk city of Lyman over the weekend, they retreated so rapidly that they left behind the bodies of their comrades. Some were still lying by the side of the road leading into the city on Wednesday.

Lyman sustained heavy damage both during the occupation and as Ukrainian soldiers fought to retake it. Mykola, a 71-year-old man who gave only his first name, was among about 100 residents who lined up for aid on Wednesday.

“We want the war to come to an end, the pharmacy and shops and hospitals to start working as they used to,” he said. “Now we don’t have anything yet. Everything is destroyed and pillaged, a complete disaster.”

In the Luhansk region, also in the eastern Donbas, Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Ukrainian forces have retaken six villages. He did not name the villages, but said the retreating Russian forces are mining the roads and buildings.

Haidai also said the Russian forces were indiscriminately drafting men from the Luhansk region. “They no longer ask about health and marital status; sick people and those with many children are being taken away,” he said.

In central Ukraine, multiple explosions rocked Bila Tserkva, a city about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, Kyiv. Regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said six Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones struck the city and set off fires at what he described as infrastructure facilities. One person was wounded.

___

Hanna Arhirova reported from Kyiv, Ukraine.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A migrant from Michoacan, Mexico, uses the CBPOne app Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Tijuana, Mexico. A...
Associated Press

Online system to seek asylum in US is quickly overwhelmed

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Hours before sunrise, migrants at one of Mexico’s largest shelters wake up and go online, hoping to secure an appointment to try to seek asylum in the U.S. The daily ritual resembles a race for concert tickets when online sales begin for a major act, as about 100 people glide their […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
7 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni departs Algiers after a two day official visit in Algeria, Mo...
Associated Press

Italy’s premier visits Libya for talks on energy, migration

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister visited Libya for talks Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. Libya is the third North African country Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited over the last two weeks as she seeks to secure new supplies […]
7 hours ago
FILE  - A view of a Flybe flight departing from Manchester Airport, Manchester, England, Jan. 13, 2...
Associated Press

Flights canceled as UK airline Flybe sinks into bankruptcy

LONDON (AP) — Struggling U.K. regional airline Flybe collapsed for the second time in three years Saturday, putting jobs on the line and leaving passengers stranded. The airline initially slumped into bankruptcy in March 2020, shedding 2,400 jobs, as coronavirus restrictions decimated the travel industry. It relaunched in April last year, flying many of the […]
7 hours ago
CORRECTS THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S NAME TO KWIYEON HA - Staff of Kyodo Senpaku Co. holds canned whale meat...
Associated Press

Japan firm opens whale meat vending machines to push sales

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese whaling operator, after struggling for years to promote its products amid protests from conservationists, has found a new way to cultivate clientele and bolster sales: whale meat vending machines. The Kujira (Whale) Store, an unmanned outlet that recently opened in the port town of Yokohama near Tokyo, houses three […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Putin signs annexation of Ukrainian regions as losses mount