According to a report from Fox News, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian territories, claiming “the people have made their choice.”

Putin has declared residents of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions Russian citizens. “This is the will of millions,” Putin said, declaring residents of the territories Russian citizens.

From Fox News:

Putin vowed that Russia will now use “all available means” to guard annexed territory in Ukraine and suggests Moscow could use any attack in the war torn region, where fighting has raged since February, to further escalate its aggressive tactics.

Russian proxies in the regions claimed to have garnered 87% of civilian support in Kherson, 93% in Zaporizhzhia, 98% in Luhansk and 99% in Donetsk.

Western officials have rejected the results and alleged they were falsified to serve the Kremlin’s political aims, mimicking similar steps taken in Crimea in 2014.

Putin paved the way for the annexation of Zaporizhizhia and Kherson earlier Friday by signing an executive order that recognized their “state sovereignty and independence.”

The move echoed steps Putin took in February in the lead up to the invasion when he “recognized” the independence of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

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