The documents now pass back to the Kremlin for President Putin’s final signature to formally annex the four regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — representing around 18 percent of Ukraine’s territory.
The upper house of Russia’s parliament has voted to approve the incorporation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia, as Moscow sets about formally annexing territory it seized from Kiev during its seven-month offensive.
In a session on Tuesday, the Federation Council unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following a similar vote in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house, a day ago.
The documents now pass back to the Kremlin for President Vladimir Putin’s final signature to formally annex the four regions, representing around 18 percent of Ukraine’s internationally recognised territory.
Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kiev said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.
The Kremlin is yet to formally designate the borders of the new regions — large parts of which are under the control of Ukraine’s forces. As such, it is still unclear where Russia will demarcate its own international borders once the annexation is complete.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said consultations were ongoing regarding the borders of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
Russia does not have full control over any of the four regions.
Ukraine made more battlefield gains on Monday, taking territory tens of kilometres (miles) behind the previous frontlines in the southern Kherson region, according to reports by Russian-backed officials.
Moscow’s forces only control around 60 percent of the Donetsk region and 70 percent of Zaporizhzhia, while recent Ukrainian advances have also pushed the frontlines back into Luhansk, a region which Russian forces claimed full control over in July.
After reclaiming control of Lyman — a key logistics and transport hub — in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian forces have pushed further east and may have gone as far as the border of the neighbouring Luhansk region as they advance toward Kreminna, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest analysis of the combat situation.
As Ukrainian forces pressed their counteroffensives in the east and the south, Russian forces launched more missile strikes at Ukrainian cities on Tuesday.
Several missiles hit Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, damaging its infrastructure and causing power cuts. Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and at least two others, including a nine-year-old girl, were wounded.
In the south, four civilians were injured when Russian missiles struck the city of Nikopol.