On Monday, the Lower House (Duma) unanimously approved the treaties on the accession of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye to the Russian Federation.
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On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin presented the four texts for ratification by the legislature. Once the treaties have been approved by the Lower House, they must be analyzed by the "Council of the Federation," the Upper House.
The Duma session began with a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, who stressed that the Donetsk and Lugansk republics were created in 2014 in order to protect their populations from Ukrainian aggression. He also recalled that Russia launched its special military operation in response to Ukraine's non-compliance with the Minsk agreements.
“The Russian president announced it from the Kremlin on Sept. 29. The liberation of the regions is the work of their citizens, who have freely decided to share their fate with Russia,” Lavrov said, referring to the referendums held in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye.
In the last week of September, the separatist regions and people's republics consulted their population if they wanted to join Russia. In the referendums the percentages of support for annexation were 99 percent in the Donetsk People's Republic, 98 percent in the Lugansk People's Republic, 93 percent in Zaporozhye, and 87 percent in Kherson.
The European Union and the United States, however, do not recognize the legitimacy of these referendums and promise new sanctions against Russia.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that Donetsk and Lugansk would retain their 2014 borders, adding that authorities would continue consultations on territorial boundaries with the populations of Kherson and Zaporozhye.