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Vladimir Putin Officially Announces Four Regions in Ukraine Now Part of Russia. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 30, 2022 - 10:15   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome to our viewers around the world. More

coverage of Hurricane Ian coming up.

First up, though, Russia's president upping the stakes in the danger in his war on Ukraine. Vladimir Putin today officially announcing four Ukrainian

territories are now part of Russia after staged referendum that Western leaders call sham votes.

The annexations illegal under international law, happening in the midst of Putin's faltering war efforts with growing criticism at home and what has

become a large exodus to Russia's borders by fighting age men who fear getting swept into battle by Putin's recently announced draft.

Well, after his speech earlier today, Putin and pro-Russian leaders of the occupied areas signed annexation decrees. The Russian president vowing that

people living in what amounts to almost one-fifth of Ukrainian territory will become permanent Russian citizens.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I want the Kyiv authorities and the real monsters in the West to hear me and remember those

people who live in these four regions are becoming our citizens forever.


ANDERSON: Well, in the meantime, the bloodshed continues and this is disturbing video. Ukraine says a Russian missile attack killed 25 people

riding in a humanitarian convoy in Zaporizhzhia. The victims heading to an occupied part of Zaporizhzhia to pick up relatives when the missiles hit.

Nick Paton Walsh is in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine and Matthew Chance who's spent years in Moscow for CNN covering Putin's announcements for us

today from New York.

Matthew, your reaction to what we heard from Vladimir Putin just earlier.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's astonishing, isn't it, Becky? I mean, this really raises the stakes in the

conflict. Vladimir Putin basically announcing that there are four new regions of Russia. Those regions where the referenda were staged over the

past couple of weeks where there were extraordinarily high votes in favor, according to those sham elections conducted for the most parts at gunpoint

in favor of those territories joining the Russian federation.

It sends a very powerful message, domestically, of course, Russia's own population, underlining the Kremlin propaganda about the idea that these

people want to join Russia. It also sends a very strong message to the international community as well, which has roundly condemned this action,

that Russia is going to go ahead no matter what the consequences. And it says of course that it will defend those regions which it now regards

essentially as part of Mother Russia.

Putin making no bones about the idea that he will use nuclear weapons if he deems that to be necessary. There's been reactions as well within the past

few moments from Ukraine. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine putting it out there on his sort of video address, saying that basically Ukraine will now

make an application to NATO, the Western military alliance. He said we're already walking the path with NATO de factor, now we're going to apply to

make it de jure, to make it sort of, in effect, legal.

I've also been speaking to my contacts in Ukraine, and what they're saying is that a source close to Volodymyr Zelenskyy is basically saying now that

they are prepared to engage in peace talks with Russia but not with Vladimir Putin.


That's not something they're going to be prepared to do. And of, course Vladimir Putin has put his own conditions on the idea of peace talks as

well, saying that he called on Kyiv for cease-fire and negotiations. He said but we won't, Russia will not discuss those four regions that have now

been absorbed into the Russian federation. Those people, he said, will be with our country. They'll be our citizens forever.

And so, you know, this is an escalation. The battle lines are being, you know, much more kind of firmly drawn over the course of the past few hours

as a result of this. But I'm not sure how that's going to affect the situation in terms of the military active just taking place on the ground -

- Becky.

ANDERSON: Well, let's talk about what's going on on the ground. Nick, your perspective.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, look, I mean, it is quite clear that both sides are doing what they can to escalate their

positioning geopolitically around this. I mean, while Russia is introducing to these occupied areas what it may consider to be its kind of nuclear

umbrella of protection, although I should be absolutely clear, Vladimir Putin did not specifically say that they would use nuclear force to protect

these freshly annexed territories even though they don't militarily control all of that area.

He did hint at all the possible means being used and made a reference to how the United States was the only country who'd used nuclear weapons

against Japan and that had, quote, "set an alarming precedent." So holding the possibility out there, but Ukraine in turn moving in the same way that

it has in the past years by wanting to be part of the world's largest military alliance that are indeed neighbors, that is indeed equipping it at

an extraordinarily fast rate.

But I have to wait and see frankly what NATO's response to this accelerate application is. I would imagine they would be reluctant to, essentially,

join -- allow Ukraine to join their alliance and then drag themselves directly through Article Five into this conflict against Russia. But still

Zelenskyy's speech given how Russia is trying to extend its umbrella of protection, putting NATO in an awkward position of itself. I think all of

this positioning is essentially around trying to reduce or at least address the failed at times direct nuclear threats made by Russia.

But it is on the ground here that the calculus is changing for Moscow. It's absurd, frankly, to have seen the pageantry, the theater in Moscow when we

know here, that in a key strategic sound of Lyman, vital to Russia's presence here, Russian troops in their thousands are being encircled pretty

much as we speak. And that could have an extraordinarily knock-on effect for their presence in Luhansk and possibly the next where I'm standing,

even though Kramatorsk, where I am here, has according to Moscow just become part of what they consider Russian territory. Absurd frankly to be

standing here and hear that -- Becky.

ANDERSON: I just want to take a listen to part of what President Putin said earlier on today.

Nick, I'll start with you because this is specifically referring to these four regions that he now suggests are on the Russian control. Have a



PUTIN (through translator): We will develop infrastructure industry. Education. Health. And we will make sure we will all the republics and

areas of our huge motherland have prosperity.


ANDERSON: To which he got thunderous applause, obviously, from, you know, a supportive audience. What is the reality on the ground? How much of these

areas does Russia actually control at this point? Is it clear?

WALSH: Look, it's absolutely clear when it comes to Luhansk. There's a lot of it that they're losing fast particularly from this rapid advance from

the north. Donetsk, as I say, I'm standing in the Donetsk region which Russia says is part of its territory but obviously here is Ukraine and lots

of that is still the case.

Zaporizhzhia, also has a significant chunk held by Ukraine at the moment and Kherson, too, is slowly finding Ukrainian forces pushing into it. So,

yes, you know, you don't have to really pass exactly which part of this territory is held by Russian right now to recognize the absurdity of what

Vladimir Putin has essentially just proclaimed.

But the real question Russia faces is after those grandiose statements of how we will rebuild, we are here to protect everybody, how are they going

to even equip the partially mobilized soldiers that they have tried to rush to the frontline as false conscripts over the past months?


Russia's problem here has not been the loftiness of his ambition. It's not just being Putin revisionist history or his large statements of being sort

of the fatherland protector of all the Russian slabs across the world. It's been his ability just supply to troops on the frontline, to make sense or

strategic decisions, and to have sort of an idea as to whether these ambitions can be met by its capabilities. And that's why they're losing

still here -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Matthew, your thoughts?

CHANCE: Well, I was struck by the crowd, actually, that we're listening to Vladimir Putin' s speech. And for much of that speech, this is meant to be

a celebration, remember. This is the -- from the Kremlin point of view, the glorious return, the gathering of the Russian people back to the fold. And

they stony face. They did not look happy about it because behind, you know, their eyes there must be a realization at this point that this military

adventure has been misstep after misstep on the part of the Russians.

And it's cost the country dearly. And continues to cross the country dearly. There is going to be a concert in Moscow later on today where

people are being encouraged to come out and celebrate the annexation, the absorption of these territories into the Russian federation. And I bet

we're going to see a massive contrast to the scenes we witnessed back in 2014 for instance when the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia in much

the same way.

And there was a genuine outpouring of patriotic fervor. You know, I'm not sure we're going to see that in Russia now particularly after the so-called

partial mobilization of military aged men, some of them not military aged in Russia. The mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people out of the

country. And of course, the financial catastrophe looming on the horizon for Russian people.

ANDERSON: Right. Matthew, Nick, good to have you both. Thank you very much indeed.

And thank you for joining us. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. A lot more on this story with my colleagues Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow right after

this short break so stay with us.