Zelensky knocks annexation as ‘Russian farce’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 8, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions a “farce” on Sunday.

“Recently, someone somewhere held pseudo-referendums, and when the Ukrainian flag is returned, no one remembers the Russian farce with some pieces of paper and some annexations,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.

“Except, of course, law enforcement agencies of Ukraine,” he continued. “Because everyone who is involved in any elements of aggression against our state will be accountable for it.”

Russia on Friday annexed four regions in Ukraine’s east and south, a major escalation in the seven-month war after Russian President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists and ramped up his threats of using nuclear weapons.

As U.S. and Western officials condemn the annexations as a violation of international law, Ukrainian forces continued to dig in over the weekend, recapturing the key transportation hub of Lyman, which is located in one of the regions Russia now lays claim to.

“The story of the liberation of Lyman in Donetsk region has now become the most popular in the media,” Zelensky said. “But the successes of our soldiers are not limited to Lyman.”

Zelensky also noted a flurry of diplomatic activity in Turkey, where Ukraine’s first lady and Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s office, visited on Sunday. Zelensky also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Yermak in Istanbul met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and İbrahim Kalın, special adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Very substantive negotiations,” Zelensky said. “Absolutely in the interests of Ukraine. To strengthen our security.”

Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said the two leaders discussed efforts to export grain from Ukraine and concerns about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Russia has controlled the area in and around the plant for months, and nearby outbursts of fighting have led to ongoing safety concerns. Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said on Saturday that Russia detained the Ukrainian head of the plant shortly after the annexations.

“[Sullivan] conveyed that the United States and its allies and partners will not be deterred by Russia’s flagrant violations of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and will impose severe costs on any individual, entity, or country that provides support to Russia’s purported annexation,” Watson said in a readout of the call.

Tags Emmanuel Macron Jake Sullivan russia Russia-Ukraine war Russian annexation ukraine Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky

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