Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will be victorious during a celebratory concert at the Red Square in Moscow on Friday after he declared the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
“We have become stronger because we are together. With us is the truth, and indeed, the power! And that means victory! Victory will be ours!” Putin said.
Putin gave a speech following the claimed annexation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine.
“For decades, they tried to eradicate the historical consciousness of these people, to destroy their traditions, to forbid them to speak in their native language, to forbid their culture. Nothing worked,” I said.
“And that’s why we say Russia not only opens the doors of our native home for our brothers and sisters, it opens its heart to them. Welcome man!” Putin said to the cheering crowd.
After the speech, Putin was joined on stage by the four Russia-appointed leaders of the four regions: Denis Pushilin, Leonid Pasechnik, Yevgeny Balitsky and Vladimir Saldo. Together, they sang the Russian national anthem joined by a choir of artists from Russia and annexed regions who performed at the concert as the crowd waved Russian flags.
How Ukraine and Western nations are reacting: Members of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – and the European Union have vowed never to recognize Russian sovereignty over the regions and to impose sanctions on Russia.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move a “farce” in a pre-recorded video statement released shortly after Putin’s speech and vowed that “the entire territory of our country will be liberated.”