Putin speaks to massive crowd celebrating new territories
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed thousands of people gathered on Moscow’s Red Square on Friday evening, celebrating the beginning of the process to incorporate four former Ukrainian regions that voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.
Putin’s emotional speech came just hours after he signed treaties on the inclusion of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, into the Russian Federation. The signing ceremony marked the start of the formal process of accession, which will entail the treaties being reviewed by the Constitutional Court and both chambers of parliament.
Claiming it was Russia that originally “created modern Ukraine” by transferring Moscow’s “historical territories” to it, Putin said modern Russia had now given people in those regions “the right to choose.”
“People came to the referendum and made their choice: to be with their historical motherland, with Russia,” he said to applause from the crowd.
NOW - Crowd chants "Russia, Russia, Russia" in Moscow's Red Square as Putin makes an appearance. pic.twitter.com/kOajlHOsDV— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 30, 2022
For decades, Putin claimed, the Ukrainian authorities had unsuccessfully tried to eradicate people’s “historical identity,” to destroy their traditions and forbid them from speaking their native language.
“These people carried love for their historical homeland in their hearts and passed it on to their children,” the president said, adding that Russia was not only opening its doors, but was “opening its heart” to them.
“Welcome home,” he said, prompting chants of 'Russia' from the crowd.
Putin also used the address to make several pledges: to improve security in the new territories, to revive their economies and to build schools and hospitals.
“We became stronger because we are together. The truth is behind us, and truth means strength, and thus victory. Victory will be ours,” Putin said in conclusion, before shaking hands with the heads of the regions, who joined him on the stage.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, on the eve of what Putin described as a “historic day,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Kremlin “to step back from the brink” and to stop the “annexation” of the four Ukrainian regions.
Guterres also warned Russia that neither the inclusion of new territories into Russia, nor the results of their referendums would be recognized as legal. Moscow, in turn, accused the secretary-general of abusing his power by making political statements on behalf of the UN.