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Russian President Putin was set to host a Kremlin ceremony annexing four regions of Ukraine, while his Ukrainian counterpart said Putin would have to be stopped for Russia to avoid the most damaging consequences of the war.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Annexation

  • Putin took the intermediary step of signing decrees paving the way for occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be formally annexed into Russia. The decrees were made public by the Kremlin.

  • The territory Russia controls in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia amounts to about 15% of Ukraine’s total area.

  • Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin would sign accession documents in an ornate Kremlin hall, and give a speech. A pop concert is planned on Red Square.

Fighting

  • Ukrainian President Zelenskiy promised a strong response to the annexations and summoned his defence and security chiefs for an emergency meeting.

  • Democratic and Republican US lawmakers said they wanted to continue the flow of money and weapons for Ukraine’s battle against Russia’s invasion, denouncing Moscow’s annexation plan.

Sanctions

  • Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska was charged with violating US sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine, federal prosecutors said.

Gas leak

  • The cause of damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines under the Baltic Sea, built to carry Russian gas to Europe though already shut, has not yet been solved. Sweden’s coast guard said it found a fourth leak.

  • Western countries said the pipelines were sabotaged while stopping short of openly ascribing blame. Russia, which has denied involvement, said it looked like acts of state-sponsored terrorism and that the United States stood to gain. Washington has denied any involvement.

  • US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said it was too soon to speculate who might have been behind the pipeline ruptures.

  • NATO also called the pipeline leaks sabotage and said it would respond robustly to any deliberate attempt to target infrastructure of alliance members. Reuters

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