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Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin to sign off land grab after ‘sham’ referendums

The Kremlin-backed leaders of four Russian occupied regions of Ukraine were in Moscow on Thursday after calling for President Vladimir Putin to formally annex the territories into Russia.

The Moscow-installed heads of Ukraine’s Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions claimed residents backed the move in hastily organised votes that the West says were a sham.

“I am already in Moscow,” Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the breakaway Lugansk region, told state news agency TASS on Thursday.

Moscow-backed separatists have controlled large portions of Lugansk and neighbouring Donetsk since 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

A Moscow-appointed official from Kherson region said that a meeting is planned between Putin and the heads of the occupied territories.

“A meeting with the president is, of course, scheduled. I don’t have this information now, I can’t say where, what, when,” Kirill Stremousov told a pro-Kremlin radio programme.

Russian troops took control of Kherson in southern Ukraine shortly after Moscow sent troops into the country on February 24.

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