Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the formal annexation of four regions of Ukraine in a speech on Friday.
Putin and leaders of the four regions signed treaties to annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia – a move which has been denounced as illegal by Ukraine and Western powers.
During a 37-minute long speech, Putin spoke about the break up of the Soviet Union, Western “colonial policy”, nuclear weapons, and his view of Western morals.
The quotes below have been translated into English from Russian.
Defending ‘our land’
“We will defend our land with all the powers and means at our disposal.”
“In 1991, at Belovezh Forest, without asking the will of common citizens, representatives of the then-party elites decided to destroy the USSR, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their motherland. This tore apart and dismembered our nation, becoming a national catastrophe.
“I admit that they did not fully understand what they were doing, and what consequences this would inevitably lead to in the end. But this is no longer important. There is no Soviet Union, the past cannot be brought back. And Russia today does not need it any more. We are not striving for this.
“The battlefield to which fate and history have called us is the battlefield for our people, for great historical Russia, for future generations, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
A Message to Kyiv
“I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me so that they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia are becoming our citizens. Forever.
“We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table.
“We are ready for this … But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them.”