Putin Enacts ‘Forcerendum’ and…

Putin Enacts ‘Forcerendum’ and Illegally Annexes Four Ukrainian Oblasts;

Free World Denounces Action; Zelenskyy Demands Instant NATO Accession

Despite global warnings against annexing Ukrainian territory, Russian führer Putin enacted on September 30 the “forcerendum” he ordered in eastern Ukraine and announced that he is illegally annexing Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts – one-fifth of Ukraine.

The international community condemned this move while the United States declares a stricter set of sanctions against the country and its leaders. As Putin was seizing Ukrainian land, a Russian missile attack on Zaporizhzhia left 25 civilians dead and about 50 wounded, including children. Putin warned that any attack on these Ukrainian region could result in a tactical nuclear reply by Russia.

In reply to Russia’s criminal seizure of Ukrainian land, President Zelenskyy said Ukraine is applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“It is here, in Ukraine, that the values of our Euro-Atlantic community have obtained real vital energy,” Zelenskyy said in a pre-recorded video message. “The strength of the nation that fights for freedom, and the strength of the nations that help in this fight.” He said that “de facto,” Ukraine had already “completed our path” to NATO.

“Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure. Under a procedure consistent with our significance for the protection of our entire community, under an accelerated procedure,” he said.

The European Union’s top diplomat has condemned Russian shelling on a civilian convoy in Zaporizhzhia early Friday, calling the bombardment a “heinous attack.”

“Another heinous attack by Russia on civilians: this time a humanitarian convoy bringing vital help to people living in the non-government controlled areas of Zaporizhzhia,” Josep Borrell tweeted.

The EU “condemns this appalling attack in the strongest possible terms. Those responsible will be held accountable,” Borrell added.

The White Housesaid in a strongly worded statement that the United States would never recognize this seizure of Ukrainian territory.

“The United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than part of Ukraine. Russia’s referenda are a sham – a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter. We will work with our allies and partners to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia. The United States stands with our partners around the world – and with every nation that respects the core tenets of the UN charter – in rejecting whatever fabricated outcomes Russia will announce. We will continue to support the Ukrainian people and provide them with security assistance to help them defend themselves as they courageously resist Russia’s invasion,” the White House said.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced $1.1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine. The upcoming aid package, the 22nd such installment, brings U.S. commitment to more than $16.2 billion since Russia’s invasion on February 24.

The Biden Administration announced new economic sanctions on hundreds of Russian officials and entities in response to the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

The new sanctions target several front companies outside of Russia that were created this year to help major Russian military suppliers evade the sanctions they had already faced.

The new designations also expand sanctions on top Kremlin officials to include their wives and adult children. After seven months of war and economic sanctions, these revisions offer a window into what U.S. officials believe is working.

The Treasury Department named 14 international suppliers that assisted Russia’s military supply chains. It also imposed designations on 109 members of Russia’s State Duma and 169 members of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.  

Also new is the addition of Elvira Sakhipzadovna Nabiullina, Russia’s central bank governor and a former advisor to Putin. Since 2013, she has overseen its efforts to protect the Kremlin from Western sanctions after Russia illegally seized Crimea in 2014, according to the Treasury Department.

The newly sanctioned family members are the relatives of members of Russia’s National Security Council. They include Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s wife and two adult children, along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s wife and adult children.

Condemnations also were heard on Capitol Hill.

Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today condemned Russia’s illegal annexation of sections of Ukraine and Putin’s newest threats against Ukraine and the United States. Rep. Pascrell’s Ninth District in New Jersey is home to one of the largest Ukrainian American communities in the U.S.

“The so-called liberations Russia talked about today are worth less than the blood-drenched papers they’re signed on,” said Pascrell, a member of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus. “These lands are a part of a Ukraine. I will not accept Russia’s latest illegal annexations and rigged referenda. Vladimir Putin’s rabid speech today was the ramblings of a depraved, desperate dictator. He is losing the war he started and he knows it. Putin and the Russian state have committed countless atrocities and war crimes. The butchery of innocent Ukrainians is on Putin’s hands. For years – for decades – Putin has bullied and swaggered his way to survival. Neither brave Ukrainians nor Americans will be cowed by his threats.

“Ukraine is fighting a war for the survival of their freedom – and winning. America must continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine and give her the resources she needs to expel the Russian criminals. That is why I was proud to vote in favor of over $54 billion in direct support for Ukraine and will be honored to support an additional over $12 billion for Ukraine today. God bless the brave Ukrainians! Slava Ukraini!”

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also condemned Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, calling it a “blatant violation of the fundamental rules of international law, OSCE principles, and the UN Charter.”

Putin’s “unacceptable” action on Friday “eviscerates the principle of territorial integrity, which is at the core of the OSCE’s founding principles and the international order,” the statement read.

“This action by the Russian Federation, which includes military mobilization and irresponsible nuclear threats, will only lead to greater escalation of conflict, putting further millions of lives at risk and causing more senseless human suffering,” it said.

The European Union said it “will never” recognize the Kremlin’s “illegal annexation,” describing the move as a “further violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The bloc said it will also step up sanctions against Moscow and provide Ukraine with support “for as long as it takes.”

EU Council President Charles Michel dismissed Moscow’s illegal annexation, while EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Putin’s illegal annexation “won’t change anything.”

“All territories illegally occupied by Russian invaders are Ukrainian land and will always be part of this sovereign nation,” she tweeted Friday.

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said the country “strongly rejects the illegal annexation by Russia,” calling the move “a shameless violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.”

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda said in a post on Twitter that “Russia is undermining rules-based international order,” describing Moscow’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian regions as “null” and “void.”