Russian strongman Vladimir Putin marked the illegal annexation of a territory representing 15 percent of Ukraine on Friday with a rambling speech lamenting the fall of the Soviet Union, condemning gender transitions for children, and proclaiming, “the destruction of this Western hegemony is irreversible.”
Four regions of Ukraine – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and the two regions of eastern Donbas, Donetsk and Luhansk – held wartime referendums throughout the past week asking civilians if they would like Russia to annex their land.
Reports on the ground indicated that soldiers went door-to-door in some regions clearly brandishing weapons and forcing citizens to vote in favor of the annexation, leading the vast majority of the free world to reject the referendum as a sham.
The pro-Russia leaders in all four areas claimed that an overwhelming number of participants, as many as 99 percent of voters in the Donbas, supported joining Russia.
The four leaders attended an event in Moscow on Friday in which Putin officially signed legal documents formalizing the colonization of those regions.
In a wide-ranging, often meandering speech, Putin welcomed the four Ukrainian regions as culturally, ethnically, and traditionally Russian.
“They made their choice and our common destiny and millennia of history are behind us,” Putin proclaimed. “These feelings cannot be destroyed by anyone, which is why older generations and the youth, those who remember the tragedy of the collapse of the Soviet Union voted for our unity, for our common shared future.”
Putin claimed that he was not pursuing the reconstruction of the Soviet Union, one of the bloodiest communist dictatorships in history.
“Russia today doesn’t need this [the restoration of the Soviet Union], we are not striving for this, but there is nothing stronger than the willingness of millions of people who culturally – in their faith and their language, in their traditions – consider themselves to be part of Russia,” he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin urged the Ukrainian government to consider peace talks with Russia in which Kyiv accepts Russia’s claims to a significant chunk of its land.
“I would like everyone, including the authorities in Kyiv and their real masters in the West, to hear me and remember that the people of [the four territories] are becoming our citizens. Forever,” Putin said. “We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease fire, cease all hostilities – the war it unleashed in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this.”
Putin refers to the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “regime” because he deems the 2014 presidential elections in that country illegitimate, as then-President Petro Poroshenko took office after a popular rebellion ousted pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Zelensky won the 2019 presidential election, which no party has denounced as unfree or unfair, against Poroshenko as the “pro-Russian” candidate – a reality Putin has yet to reconcile with his proclamations that Zelensky is a dictator.
Putin then launched into a tirade against Western society in general, referring to Western values as “Satanic.”
“The destruction of this Western hegemony is irreversible, the world will never be the same,” he insisted. “For great, historic Russia, for future generations, for our children and grandchildren we need to protect them from these experiments which aimed to break their soul and their consciousness. … We are fighting for our culture, for our language so that it’s impossible to cancel it and remove it from history.”
“Would you like Mom and Dad in Russia, in our country, to be replaced with Parent Number 1 or Parent Number 2?” he asked. “Do we really want our children taught from primary school about perversion and a path to degradation … the idea that there are other genders other than man and woman and ideas about gender reassignment surgery?”
Putin also accused “Anglo-Saxons” of bombing the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines, which suffered at least four mysterious “leaks” this week.
The pipelines connect Russia to Europe and serve to greatly enrich Russia through direct natural gas sales to the continent. At press time, multiple governments of the nations affected have publicly speculated that “sabotage” played a role in what may be irreversible damage to the pipelines, but no evidence has revealed any obvious culprit. Several European states have blamed Russia for the leaks, similarly without evidence.
The speech was part of a larger ceremony in which the pro-Russia leaders of the affected Ukrainian regions participated. Russian authorities announced that a patriotic concert party would follow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs documents to annex occupied Ukraine lands "forever" during a ceremony at the Kremlin, formalizing Europe's biggest land grab since World War II https://t.co/Rs44aJ5ruJ pic.twitter.com/m2ecIqpccI
— Bloomberg (@business) September 30, 2022
The annexation of the Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia mirror the events that triggered the Russia-Ukraine war in the first place in 2014: the colonization of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.
At the time, pro-Russian forces in Crimea held a sham “referendum” in which it claimed 90 percent of citizens voted to join Russia. Putin signed both documented annexing Crimea at the time and a law that facilitated the future annexation of other territories that should accelerate the process for the four regions Putin is in the process of colonizing this week.