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Putin expects situation in annexed regions to 'stabilize' soon

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he expects the turbulent situation in four regions of eastern Ukraine to "stabilize" soon, after Russia declared the territory as part of its own. Photo by Gavrill Grigorovsputnik/EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he expects the turbulent situation in four regions of eastern Ukraine to "stabilize" soon, after Russia declared the territory as part of its own. Photo by Gavrill Grigorovsputnik/EPA-EFE

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he expects the turbulent situation in four regions of eastern Ukraine to "stabilize" soon, after Russia declared the territory as part of its own.

"We are working on the assumption that the situation in the new territories will stabilize," Putin said during a televised video call with Russian teachers.

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During the same call, Putin admitted his troop mobilization announced in September, hasn't gone as smoothly as hoped.

"We have to make adjustments," Putin said Wednesday, adding Russia's Defense Ministry hadn't updated its list of citizens eligible for military service.

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This comes the same day Ukraine said it retook villages in the Luhansk and Kherson regions.

Putin officially signed federal laws on Wednesday, formally approving the annexation of the four regions of Ukraine, despite mounting Kyiv victories in the contested areas.

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The Kremlin's lower house of parliament known as the State Duma announced the signing of the laws in a statement Wednesday, saying Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson as well as their citizens have been approved to join the Russian Federation, with a transition period to be in effect until Jan. 1, 2026.

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A spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov said Russia would retake any lost territory.

"There is no contradiction here. They will be with Russia forever, they will be returned," Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, after questions over recent military losses.

Putin signed a separate decree on Wednesday, ostensibly taking over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The plant is Europe's largest nuclear power facility.

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Over the weekend, Russian military forces abducted the head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The facility's operator Energoatom demanded his safe return. Ukrainian technicians have continued to operate the plant, despite being surrounded by Russian soldiers.

Zaporozhye is one of the four regions where Moscow conducted so-called referendums last month and which Putin signed into Russian territory on Wednesday. The U.S. and its allies have said Russia illegally annexed the territory. Ukraine has also vowed not to relinquish the land and has made recent military gains during the latest fighting.

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The Kremlin referendums in the four regions took place between Sept. 23 and 27, with government results claiming the vast majority of residents want to join the Russian Federation. The votes have been widely described as shams by democratic nations, including the United States, which has been warning for months that Russia would hold such a spectacle in order to give its theft of Ukrainian land a veneer of legitimacy.

It remains unclear exactly how much of the territories Russia intends to attempt to envelope under its sovereignty, how it will succeed with little support from the wider world and as its troops in the contested regions continue to be handed heavy loses by the Ukrainian forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that support for the annexation from international countries "would be better" but that it is "absolutely not" needed.

Putin began the annexation process on Friday when he signed treaties during a ceremony in the Kremlin's St. George Hall, prompting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to apply for accelerated accession to join the NATO military defense pact.

Since then, Zelensky has also rebuked the notion of negotiations with Russia until it exits all Ukrainian land, including that of Crimea, which Putin similarly annexed in 2014, as well as signed a decree that rejects all acts adopted by Russia concerning the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

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Wednesday's news comes as Russia continues to suffer steep loses.

Zelensky said Tuesday night that the Ukrainian army, which has been making advances in the war since at least mid-September, has claimed dozens of settlements within the areas of Russian's referendum.

He listed Lyubymivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolota Balka and other cities within Kharkiv region alone as having been liberated from Moscow's military.

British intelligence Wednesday confirmed that Ukraine continues to make progress in its offensive operations in its northeastern and southern front.

"Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday," it said in a statement.

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