The situation in the four Ukrainian regions annexed to Russia will be stabilized, Vladimir Putin promised on Wednesday.
The Russian president announced the annexation of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson last week after the holding of referendums in those regions that were not recognized by the international community.
Putin’s remarks came as Ukraine announced it had regained control of towns in Lugansk and Kherson.
Ukrainian troops control parts of the other two regions and have made recent gains in Donetsk.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov said that Russia will retake any lost territory.
Asked about the recent losses suffered by the Russian military, Peskov said: “There is no contradiction here. They will be part of Russia forever, they will be retaken.”
In a speech to teachers on Teachers’ Day in Russia, Putin said he will “calmly develop” the annexed territories.
But Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, told state media that Russia needs to stop lying about what is happening on the battlefield, adding that the Russians are not stupid.
Ukrainian forces are achieving victories in both the south and the east.
Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, told the BBC on Wednesday that six towns in the region had been recaptured.
And Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky later added that his army had liberated three other villages in the southern Kherson region.
This comes after a string of victories at Kherson the day before, including the recapture of the strategic town of Davydiv Brid.
Russia is still working on the mobilization of reservistsafter Putin announced the recruitment of some 300,000 people who have completed compulsory military service.
But Putin has backtracked on which groups will be affected, after strong opposition within Russia arose to the decision.
The Russian president signed a decree that exempts various categories of students, including first-time students at official institutions and certain types of postgraduate students, such as science students.
nuclear plant concern
Putin also signed a decree formalizing Russia’s seizure of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the first days of the war.
Russia says the plant – Europe’s largest nuclear facility – will be run by a new company, but Ukraine’s nuclear operator has dismissed the move as “futile”.
Rafael Grossi, director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said he will hold consultations with both sides after this announcement.
Grossi will go to Kyiv and then to Moscow, in an attempt to achieve a agreement to establish a protection zone around the plantwhich is located near the front.
Reports of battles near the nuclear plant sparked international concern, and the last of the reactors was shut down last month.
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