Moscow, Oct 3 (EFE).- Russia’s lower parliament on Monday ratified annexation treaties signed late last week by president Vladimir Putin with the pro-Russian leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The annexations of the four regions in eastern Ukraine are illegal under international law and have been roundly condemned by the international community following “sham” referendums that were dismissed by Western powers.
The ratification bills were backed unanimously by lawmakers in the Duma, who cheered the results of the electronic vote.
“This process is the logical continuation of the unification of Russian lands that began in 2014 with the return to Russia of the republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol,” said Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who presented the bills to parliament.
The treaties, which were approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court on Sunday, establish that the official language in these four regions will be Russian — although the use of Ukrainian will be allowed — while the local currency will be the ruble.
Both the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya will keep their names as new territories of the Russian Federation, authorities said.
On Tuesday, the Federation Council – the Russian Senate or upper chamber – will take its turn in ratifying the annexations, after which Putin will officially enact the corresponding federal law.
Putin is following the same playbook he used when Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, which also held a referendum and was integrated into the Russian Federation after a rapid incorporation process.
The annexations have been declared despite Russian forces suffering heavy losses and losing swathes of territory and several key cities in those regions in recent days.
The borders of these newly-integrated Russian territories have not even been established; the chairman of the Duma Legislation Committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, said before the vote on Monday that the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, as well as Zaporizhzhya, would enter the Russian Federation according to their administrative borders, while Kherson will also include two municipalities of neighboring Mykolayiv.
None of these areas are fully under the control of pro-Russian forces.
Krasheninnkov’s statements came after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the inhabitants of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions would be consulted in defining their borders.
When asked about the borders of those two regions and of Donetsk during his daily press conference on Monday, Peskov said: “Now I cannot answer your question. Undoubtedly, in any case any configuration will depend solely on the will of the people living in these territories.” EFE