Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two decrees on Thursday recognizing the former Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia as independent sovereign states. Russian news agency RT reported that the decree will come into effect soon.

The two decrees, signed on September 29, mention the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, stating that ‘their recognition as independent sovereign states shall take effect from the date of signature.’

In these documents, Putin cited the universally accepted principles of international law and the equal rights of peoples and self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

After recognizing the independence of these two regions, Putin is preparing to recognize the independence of two more regions of Ukraine (Luhansk and Donetsk, collectively known as Donbass). He is expected to sign an agreement to incorporate the two regions into Russia.

Referendums on the territories’ accession to Russia were held on 23 and 27 September. In the Kherson region, 87.05 percent voted to declare independence and join the Russian Federation. 93.23 percent of the Zaporizhzhya region supported the idea of ​​seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. And 99.23 percent of people in Donetsk and 98.42 percent of people in Luhansk voted to join Russia.

After Putin signs the treaty of accession of the new territories to Russia, the documents will be submitted to the Russian Constitutional Court. The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, will then ratify the agreements. It will then be sent to the Upper Chamber of the Federal Council for the same procedure.

The Republic of Donbass, Kherson, and Zaporizhia cannot become part of Russia until lawmakers pass a law on their incorporation. After that, Putin must sign.

(30 September)