Putin addressed thousands of people gathered on Moscow’s red square on Friday evening.
Putin’s emotional speech came just hours after he signed treaties on the inclusion of these four regions into the Russian Federation. According to Putin, for decades the Ukrainian authorities had unsuccessfully tried to eradicate people’s “historical identity,” to destroy their traditions, and forbid them from speaking their native language. But these people carried love for their historical homeland in their hearts and passed it on to their children.
And now Russia was not only opening its doors but was “opening its heart” to them. “welcome home,” he said, prompting chants of ‘Russia’ from the crowd. The signing ceremony marked the start of the formal process of accession, which will entail the treaties being reviewed by the constitutional court and both chambers of parliament.
Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has warned Russia that neither the inclusion of new territories into Russia nor the results of their referendums would be recognized as legal.