Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a “freak show” annexation of Ukrainian territories

Vladimir Putin will today officially annex the Russian-held parts of Ukraine and deliver a major speech that will usher in a grim new phase of the war.

The unlawful confiscation of parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions in the south and east of the country stems from referendums by pro-Russian puppet governments, which have been widely decried as a “sham”.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s President, last night called an emergency meeting of the country’s Security and Defense Council to discuss the annexation.

A close adviser to President Zelenskyy yesterday derided the upcoming ceremony as a “Kremlin freak show”.

An independent opinion poll released yesterday showed Russian support for the war fell further from 76 percent in August to 72 percent in September. In March it was 81 percent.

The Levada Center, Russia’s only independent pollster, also found that 70 percent of people were worried, scared and shocked after Putin’s partial mobilization announcement and that 48 percent of people wanted to see peace talks with Ukraine.

But Putin seems to have no such plans. Yesterday he previewed what is now expected to be a bellicose speech celebrating the annexation and slamming the West.

“Our political opponents are ready to attack anyone, turn any country into the epicenter of a crisis, provoke revolution and cause bloodbath.

“We’ve seen it many times,” he said in a conference call with heads of intelligence services from ex-Soviet states.

“We also know that the West is working on a blueprint to foment new conflicts in former Soviet states.

“You just have to see what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, on the border with other former Soviet states.

“Obviously all of this is the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Moscow authorities yesterday announced road closures for what is expected to be a large rally in support of the annexation. Human rights activists reported that university students and officials were forced to attend.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, told reporters yesterday that the Russian leader will sign “treats on the accession of territories to the Russian Federation” at 3 p.m. local time in the Kremlin.

Putin’s chief of staff Sergei Kiriyenko said yesterday that Russia would provide about 3.3 billion rubles ($60 million) in aid to the annexed regions.

To formally annex these territories, Russia’s parliament and constitutional court – which have morphed into stamping bodies in recent years – must ratify and approve the treaties, which is expected next week.

The developments echo Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, when Putin rallied several Crimean politicians to formalize a land grab in Ukraine’s Black Sea region.

Meanwhile, the US announced last night that it would send 18 new Himars missile systems to Ukraine, more than doubling its arsenal of groundbreaking long-range weapons.

The missiles are part of a new $1.1 billion arms and supplies package for Ukraine to bolster Kiev’s armed forces in the medium and long term.

The package of orders for US military suppliers also includes Himars ammunition, anti-drone systems, radar and armored vehicles.

The package “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s armed forces” as they continue to fight the invading Russian army, the Pentagon said.

The new package brought total US military aid to Ukraine to $16.2 billion since the Russian invasion on February 24.

Himars are high-precision missile systems that the Ukrainians have been using effectively since June, hitting Russian weapon depots and units far behind the front lines.

Their introduction changed the direction of the war and allowed Ukraine to launch successful counterattacks.

The package includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, and systems to support Ukraine in defending against Russia’s Iran-made drones, which are increasingly being used on the battlefield.

The US has also urged the EU to speed up its financial support to Ukraine. In May, Brussels pledged €9 billion in aid to keep Kyiv solvent, but has only delivered €1 billion of its pledge.

Another €5 billion agreed by Member States and the European Parliament in September is still awaiting disbursement.

Washington has warned the 27 member states of the EU to stress the need to “deliver promised economic aid to Ukraine expeditiously”.

“We reiterate our call to all of Ukraine’s partners to accelerate the delivery of promised aid to Ukraine, increase their pledges and prioritize grant aid over loans,” a US official said financial times.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a “freak show” annexation of Ukrainian territories

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