Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed the final papers to annex four regions of Ukraine – even as his military suffered further setbacks.
The Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions are “accepted into the Russian Federation” the documents say.
But in two of those areas – Luhansk and Kherson – Ukraine said it has been retaking more villages, reports the BBC.
Putin also signed a decree to formalise Russia’s seizure of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.
Last Friday, the Russian leader held a grand ceremony in the Kremlin, where he signed agreements with the Moscow-installed leaders of the four regions.
In another move, President Putin has signed a decree to formalise Russia’s seizure of the nuclear power plant in one of the annexed regions – Zaporizhzhia – which has been occupied by Russian troops since the early days of the war.
Russia says the plant – Europe’s largest nuclear facility – will be operated by a new company, but Ukraine’s nuclear operator has dismissed the move as “worthless”.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has said he will hold consultations with the two sides following the development.
He is heading to Kyiv and then Moscow, seeking to establish a protection zone around the plant, which is situated near the front line of fighting.