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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday presided over a ceremony at the Kremlin to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces. Following are extracts from his speech, translated by Reuters:

“Referendums have taken place … their results are well-known.”

“People have made their choice … This is an inalienable right, which is enshrined in Article 1 of the U.N. Charter.”

“People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever.”

“We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiation table.”

“We will defend our land with all our strength and all our means”.

Putin declares annexation of Ukrainian lands in Kremlin ceremony

“After the collapse of the USSR, the West decided that the world would forever have to put up with its dictates … the West expected that Russia would not be able to cope with such dictates and fall apart … but Russia has been reborn and strengthened.”

“The West continues to look for new chances to weaken and destroy Russia.”

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Extracts from Putin’s speech at annexation ceremony

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