President Putin has announced the annexation of four regions of Ukraine that are controlled by Russian forces.
It’s the biggest seizure of territory in Europe since the Second World War.
The Russian leader’s declaration follows staged referendums in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk, which were denounced as sham by the international community.
President Putin warned the West he would protect the territory with all means at his disposal.
In response Ukraine said its application to join the NATO western alliance should be accelerated.
The United States announced new sanctions against Russia.