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Putin declares four areas of Ukraine as Russian

The Russian president has finished his speech and the Russian-appointed leaders of the territories being seized are now signing the formal documents. President Putin is signing them too but sitting at a table several meters away, with aides carrying the documents back and forth. The audience is applauding as each representative is introduced.

Putin claims Russia is not the source of Europe's energy problems

The invasion of Ukraine has impacted energy prices - exacerbating high inflation in many countries. UK PM Liz Truss is among the leaders who have pointed to this. Putin turns this on its head. He says Russia is not the source of the problem and claims the energy crisis has been created by "many years of wrong policies" - that took place way before the war with Ukraine. The Russian leader also criticized capitalism, saying this was not the way to provide for people.

'Russia, Russia, Russia!'

The ceremony has now concluded - at the end President Putin and the Russian-backed leaders of the regions being seized stood for the crowd. The audience in the grand hall chanted "Russia! Russia! Russia!".

The scene resembles the events of eight years ago when Putin was standing with the Moscow-installed leaders of Crimea - a southern Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia.

We'll bring you an analysis and reaction to this illegal move by Russia to declare Ukrainian territory as Russia's own, seven months after it invaded the country.

What comes next?

The annexation documents have been signed and Putin has delivered his speech. We're now waiting to see how the world reacts.

Here's what happens next in Russia:

  • This evening, a concert will take place on Red Square. Reports on Telegram suggest some people are being paid to attend and have been encouraged to bring flags. Earlier this week, Mediazona reported that students were being invited to attend in exchange for university credits
  • A similar rally took place in 2014, after the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea, which Putin attended, and at which he gave a speech
  • The Constitutional Court will then have to approve the annexations - happening in the next few days
  • Once the Constitutional Court’s approval has come through, the State Duma will approve agreements and adopt amendments to the Constitution increasing the size of the Russian Federation
  • The documents will then be approved by the Federation Council, after which the decision of the Duma is officially signed by Vladimir Putin
  • The process is expected to be completed by 4 October but this is the Russian legal process and the annexations will not be recognized by the international community

EU leaders: 'We will never recognize this illegal annexation'

The European Council, which brings together EU leaders, has said "we firmly reject and unequivocally condemn" Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territories, which it said had no legal impact.

In the last hour, Putin has hosted a signing ceremony and made a speech celebrating the seizing of four regions in Ukraine - including Russian-held parts Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

The European Council said Russia had "blatantly" violated the "fundamental rights of Ukraine to independence"

"We will never recognize this illegal annexation."

It added that it "stands resolutely" with Ukraine and will "strengthen its restrictive measures" on Russia.

President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the move would not change anything and all territories "illegally occupied by Russian invaders are Ukrainian land".