Explainer: Putin’s planned annexation of 15% of Ukraine

STORY: President Vladimir Putin says he's preparing to formally annex Ukrainian territory.

If he's successful - it could mark the end of diplomatic negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

All of this comes as referendums on joining Russia are underway in areas either controlled by Russian forces - or Russian-backed separatists.

Here's a breakdown of the issues at hand.


Russia is planning to annex at least 35,000 square miles of Ukrainian territory –

roughly the same size of Hungary or Portugal.

It'll include a big chunk of the Donbas region - including Donetsk and Luhansk - where a lot of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians live.

Putin recognized these regions as independent states before the invasion...

and referendums were held in 2014 on seccession from Ukraine.


According to history -- fast.

After Russian forces took control of Crimea on February 27, 2014 – an area that has an ethnic Russian majority – a referendum on joining Russia was held a little over two weeks later.

Crimea’s leaders declared a 97% vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Russia formally added Crimea on March 21, less than a month after invading it.


Neither the West nor Ukraine can stop Putin claiming the regions.

The U.S. and its allies say they want Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield –

And they have helped by supplying weapons… but not NATO troops.

The White House says it'll impose more sanctions on Russia,

but there's not a great deal of economic punishment left to inflict...

Unless the U.S. could rope China and India into some sort of cap on the price of Russian energy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meanwhile, has warned that annexation by Russia will destroy any chance of peace talks.