Oct 19, 2022 - World

Putin declares martial law in annexed regions of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Oct. 14. Photo: Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared martial law in four recently annexed regions of Ukraine.

Why it matters: The move gives Russia greater control over the territories — Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk. None of them are entirely controlled by Russian forces.

What they're saying: "I signed a decree on the introduction of martial law in these four constituent entities of the Russian Federation," Putin said at a Security Council meeting Wednesday, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

  • "It will immediately be sent for approval to the Federation Council, and the State Duma will be informed of the decision," he added.
  • "We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people," he said, according to a translation from AP.

The big picture: Since Putin introduced the prospect of annexation, analysts warned that the move could allow Russia to claim that fighting is taking place on Russian soil and attempt to recast the war as a defensive one.

  • The decree signed Wednesday states that the decision to enact martial law is being made because "armed force is used against the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation," according to TASS.
  • Putin said during his remarks the decree would enter into effect on Thursday and that additional — though unspecified — powers would be given to the heads of all of Russia's regions, AP reported.
  • Territorial defense headquarters are being established in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the Russian state-owned news agency RIA.
  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the order doesn't mean Russia will close its borders, per AP.

President Biden responded to Putin's declaration of martial law at a press conference Wednesday, saying, "I think that Vladimir Putin finds himself in an incredibly difficult position."

  • "What it reflects, to me, is it seems his only tool available to him is to brutalize individual citizens in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, to try to intimidate them into capitulating. They're not going to do that."
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